Lime Marinade and Herb Salad for Steak


This lime marinade has become my new favorite. Couple with the fresh herb salad topping and hit a homerun  with those at your table!.  The fresh brightness of herbs and tangy lime juice adds layers of flavor to grilled meats, fish or chicken. I use Mexican Mint Marigold in my herb mix because tarragon does not grow well here, but if you have tarragon, use that. We will have this again tonight with sides of baked potato and crispy lettuces, also from our garden. This is my version of Danny Boome’s, used when grilling flank steak on his Food Network show Rescue Chef.


Lime Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lime juice (about 3 limes)
1 orange, juiced
3 garlic cloves, smashed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put all ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Add the steak and refrigerate for 30 -45 minutes, turning occasionally.  Remove from refrigerator and let come to room temperature before grilling or pan-searing steak.

Herb Salad

1 small bunch Italian parsley
1  small bunch sweet basil
1 small bunch cilantro
1 small bunch Mexican Mint Marigold  (or use fresh Tarragon if you have it.)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 limes, juiced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Wash the herbs and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Remove the leaves from stems and chop slightly. Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, salt, and pepper. Add  to chopped herbs a few spoonsful at a time until mixture is lightly coated with dressing.  You may not need all the dressing, but serve any remaining to pass with a small spoon at the table.


Fall Garden Dill Pickles


Fall means a number of eagerly anticipated things in our part of Texas.  One of them is a second growing season.  In our fall garden, Kristen and Nora are harvesting cucumbers! So we made dill pickles this week, a small batch which can be stored in the refrigerator.


Fall Garden Dill Pickles

Prepare the jars and lids you wish to use.  The number will depend on the size and quantity of available cucumbers.  Prepare more than you estimate needed.

12-15  pickling cucumbers, washed and patted dry

6 cups water

3 cups vinegar

2 Tablespoons pickling salt

2 teaspoons sugar

12 or more cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed

whole  peppercorns

large bunch of dill

yellow mustard seed

Set jars out on a tea towel.  Into the bottom of each jar, place a garlic clove, one dill frond, several peppercorns, 1 teaspoon mustard seed.

Set aside any cucumbers you want to leave whole. Slice remaining cucumbers into 1/2 inch slices or spears. To make brine, combine water, vinegar, salt, and sugar in pan. Bring to a boil and stir until sugar and salt dissolve. Remove from heat. Add cucumbers to jars to within 1/2 inch of top of jar . Do not pack them too tightly as you need room for the brine. Scatter more fresh dill,  garlic, mustard seed, and peppercorns on top of the cucumbers. Finish by pouring into each jar enough brine to cover the cucumbers. Cover and store in the refrigerator for at least one week before eating. Pickles should be good for at least 6 weeks after that. These small batches disappear fast.



Roasted Lemon Chicken

lemonchicken1I love cooking in my iron skillet, flavoring with herbs and lemon, and easy entrees, so this is a new favorite. Served with a mixture of white, brown, and wild rice and a pan of roasted brussel sprouts with apples and pecans, everyone at our table gave it a thumbs up!  This is my version of Ina Garten’s recipe.

Roasted Lemon Chicken

1 teaspoon thyme (I used Penzey’s French Thyme)

 1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/3 cup good olive oil

2  lemons, 1 halved and sliced, the second lemon juiced

1 onion, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

½ cup dry white wine

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the thyme, 1 teaspoon salt,  1 teaspoon pepper and 1/3 cup olive oil  into a small bowl and set aside.

Put the lemon slices in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet and scatter the onion and garlic over lemons. Place the chicken on top and rub with about half the herb mixture. Turn chicken breasts over, pat dry with paper towel. and rub with the rest of the oil and herb mixture.

Roast the chicken for 30 minutes. Pour the wine into the pan at edges of chicken and roast for another 15 minutes. Cover skillet tightly with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for about 10 minutes Serve hot with the pan juices, lemon, and onion.



Blackberry Crisp

blackberrycrumbleUse blackberries, dewberries, raspberries, or blueberries (or a combination) in this old-fashioned crisp .A crisp is like a cobbler and depending on the fruit used can sometimes be called by names that make us smile –  pandowdy, grunt, slump, buckles, , croustade, bird’s nest pudding or crow’s nest pudding.  They are all simple variations of cobblers, and they are all based on seasonal fruits and berries, in other words, whatever fresh ingredients are readily at hand.  They are all homemade and simple to make and rely more on taste than fancy pastry preparation.

Early settlers of America were very good at improvising. When they first arrived, they brought their recipes with them, such as English steamed puddings.  When they could not find their favorite ingredients, they used what was available. That is how these traditional American dishes came about with such unusual names.

I made this one for a Saturday breakfast, but Joe can eat berry cobbler anytime!  It is tastiest when right out of the oven, and any leftovers never last long.

Blackberry Crisp

6 cups fresh Blackberries

1-2 Tablespoons light brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest.

For Topping:

3/4 cup flour

3/4 cup packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oatmeal

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

6 Tablespoons butter cut into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a deep baking dish. Combine berries, 2 Tablespoons sugar, and lemon zest in a bowl and pour into baking dish. In another bowl, combine flour, remaining sugar, oatmeal, and cinnamon. Add the butter bits and mix with hands until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle on top of berry mixture and bake until lightly browned and crisp, about 35-40 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.






Chicken Shawarma


True shawarma is cooked with stacked, spice-marinated meats– lamb, turkey, chicken, beef, or a mix of meats– on a vertical spit. This is an oven roasted dish, chicken shawarma style because of the delicious layers of flavor delivered by the mix of Mideastern spices. A friend shared the recipe from the New York Times on Facebook and I adapted slightly to arrive at this version.  I served this with green beans,  pita chips, tabouleh, and tzatziki. Wonderful!

Chicken Shawarma

  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and minced
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon turmericshwarmaplate
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 4 large or 6 small boneless, skinless chicken breasts (could use boneless thighs)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or mint

Put the chicken in the oven and roast until it is browned, crisp at the edges and cooked through, about 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven, allow to rest 2 minutes, then slice into bits.Scatter fresh herbs ( I used mint)  over the top and serve with tomatoes, cucumbers, pita and yogurt sauce plus a vegetable of your choice.


Ham and Swiss Quiche with Greek Yogurt


This quiche made a lovely Saturday morning breakfast for us, but it is just as good for lunch or a late supper.  I experimented with using a different ingredient and found that a cup of Greek Yogurt works well with other traditional quiche ingredients. I used a heaping cup of chopped ham here, but will try it soon with chopped fresh vegetables instead. Serve with fresh fruit or green salad tossed with a citrus vinaigrette.

Ham and Swiss Quiche with Greek Yogurt

1 9 or 10 inch pie unbaked pie crust

1 generous cup chopped ham

1 cup grated swiss cheese

1 shallot, sliced very thin

3 large eggs

1 cup Greek yogurt

2/3 cup milk

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg. (a pinch!)

1/2 teaspoon salt

freshly ground black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Fit the unbaked pie crust into Quiche baking dish. Sprinkle chopped ham over bottom of crust, top with 3/4 of the grated cheese, reserving 1/4 cup. Scatter thinly sliced shallot over this mixture. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add yogurt and milk with nutmeg,

In a medium bowl, beat eggs and add yogurt and milk with nutmeg, salt, and pepper..  Blend, then pour slowly over ham and cheese.  Top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese and sprinkle extra nutmeg over top if desired. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower


We have prepared beds for our fall garden, planted a few seeds, and as soon as winter vegetables are available at the garden center, we will add a row of cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and some broccoli plus winter greens.  Roasted cauliflower is a favorite in our house so we have tried a variety of recipes.  This was a favorite.

Roasted Cinnamon Spice Cauliflower

  • 1 large head cauliflower (about 3 pounds), cut into florets
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Coarse salt, for sprinkling
  1. Toss florets in melted butter, sprinkle with sugar, salt, pepper, paprika, and cinnamon, and spread on baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Roast at 450° F for 20-25 minutes or until golden, fork tender, and crispy brown on the edges.

Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies


Nora is learning to make cookies but she has a distinct preference for chocolate! A recipe found in a cookbook written by my cousin Jane Purtle was just what Nora ordered!  In Food from the Hills, the author recorded family recipes from her family, which happens to be our family, too.  My grandmother, Clyde Curley Terrell, and Jane Purtlle’s father, Russell Hill, were half-siblings.  My great-grandmother Ernestine Augier Hill Curley was married to Jane’s grandfather, James Hill.  After he died, she married my Great Grandfather Curley. These chocolate oatmeal cookies were a favorite in the Hill family.

But there is more to this cookie story.  The original oatmeal cookie (without chocolate) recipe was one found in the Home Economics class cookbook from Bullard High School in Bullard, Texas where Jane Purtle’s mother Ruby and my mother, Opal attended.  So I am certain Nora’s great-grandmother Opal also made these cookies. Nora’s middle name is Opal.  I had fun thinking about all these connections while we made these cookies.


Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

1 egg

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 tablespoons buttermilk

1 cup oatmeal  ( recipe says Quick, but regular works great and makes a chewier cookie)

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted (Please note:  I substituted 6 Tablespoons Dutch cocoa powder  plus 2 Tablespoons oil for the melted baking chocolate)

Break egg in mixing bowl and beat in sugar.  Add oil to sugar and eggs. Add milk and oatmeal. Sift flour with salt, baking powder and soda into the first mixture.  Add chocolate and beat well.  Drop by teaspoonfuls on a greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees until firm around edges but soft in center.

If desired, omit chocolate and add 1 teaspoon vanilla.

Remove from baking sheet and cool on rack.







Blueberry Breakfast Cake

blueberrybreakfastcakeThis recipe is available several places online.  I made it for the first time last week, but it won’t be the last time!  When blueberries are in season and available for good prices, I buy enough to freeze, so I used frozen blueberries which worked great.  Whether using fresh or frozen, be sure to put the berries in a ziploc bag with 1/4 cup flour and toss.  This keeps the berries from sinking to the bottom in a soggy clump. Then, fold the flour-coated fruit into the batter as the very last step before baking. This coating absorbs some of the liquid released by the fruit as it bakes and keeps the fruit in place until the crumb has set. This works for any fruit called for in a recipe as well as any other ingredients, like nuts, dried fruit, and chocolate chips. You can use this trick when baking muffins, cupcakes, scones, or any quick bread.

Blueberry Breakfast Cake

½ cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar, diviided (Save out 1 Tablespoon sugar for topping)

2 tsp. lemon zest or more — zest from 1 large lemon

1 egg

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. kosher salt

2 cups fresh blueberries

½ cup buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cream butter with lemon zest and  sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.

In a ziploc bag,  toss the blueberries with ¼ cup of flour and set aside.

Combine the remaining flour, baking powder and salt and add to batter  a little at a time, alternating with the buttermilk.  Fold in the blueberries gently.

Grease a 9-inch square baking pan with butter or coat with non-stick spray. Spread batter into pan. Sprinkle with another tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes. Check with a toothpick for doneness and if necessary, return to oven until toothpick comes out clean..

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce


Pulled pork has become a standby dish for our kitchen.  I like to use the slow cooker for easy preparation, and this is one of the easiest recipes since you only need the pork, some seasoning, and water in the crockpot to begin.  The sauce can be made ahead and preheated before serving, but I like to make it just before table time.  There is alot of balsamic vinegar in the sauce, and as it cooks down and begins to thicken, the fragrant aroma makes your mouth water!  This is my version of a recipe I saw featured on FaceBook. This makes a large batch and freezes well.

Pulled Pork with Balsamic Honey Sauce

2 Pork Tenderloins, 2.5 – 3 lbs. total

1 1/4 cups water

1 teaspoon Tony Cachere’s seasoned salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

(For Balsamic Honey Sauce)

1 cup Balsamic Vinegar

3 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup catsup

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup honey

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce




Place pork in the bottom of  slow cooker which has been coated with cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk together water, seasoned salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pork.
Cover slow cooker and cook on low for 8-10 hours (or on high for 4-5).

In the last 30 minutes of cooking the pork, combine minced garlic, balsamic vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, honey, and Worcestershire sauce in saucepan over medium heat. Stir to blend, then bring to a simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened.
Remove pork from slow cooker to large platter and shred with 2 forks. Pour about 1/2 cup of balsamic sauce over pulled pork and toss to combine.

Serve on regular size or slider buns. Pass extra sauce!