Sandi is blogging from the WhistleStop Cafe kitchen. It's all about good home cooking; food, family and fun. Thousands of posts . . .

~In the south and around the world.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

What's on Your kitchen table?

Janelle at Talk of Tomatoes has suggested a fun idea. She is hosting C.O.T.M. ~ centerpiece of the month. I am thinking that this will give me the incentive to get the rest of the christmas stuff put away once and for all.

Since I also have to be cleaning out my pantry for 'Bake My Day' ...I plan to be real simple this month. How 'bout a bowl of popcorn!

What's on y'alls table?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Super Simple Snacks

This is a super simple snack that is perfect for any get together. Serve it with crackers, warm out of the oven and it couldn't be better. It is an appetizer that is not only quick and no frills, it is also yummy... and people will want the secret.

Baked Brie
1 round brie cheese
1/4 cup jelly
Place brie in an oven proof serving dish. Spoon jelly onto the top of the brie. Bake at 350° until the cheese is soft and jelly is bubbly.

In this picture, I used apricot jelly. For our superbowl party I plan to use a hot pepper jelly- the guys will eat it up!
Y'all enjoy!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Super Snacks

The Super Bowl is a big event, almost as big as the Iron Bowl. It is a great occasion to have friends over, enjoy some good eats, a little BuffaloRock, maybe an occasional adult beverage, and watch the commercials.
This year I can undertand that we can look forward to seeing Mr. Brittney Spears working in a fast food resturant (fitting!), one or two beer commercials, and those Emerald Nuts. Companies have to get really creative to keep us from fast forwarding straight through!

Snacks, on the other hand, will be eaten no matter what. Bags of chips, bowls of dip, and platters of hot wings will be consumed, why not add something healthy this year? These are some Chicken strips, easy to marinate and throw on the grill.
Chick on a Stick
2 pounds chicken breasts sliced into strips
1/2 cup Marinade
1/2 cup beer (optional of course)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
cherry tomatoes
fresh mushrooms
Chop or tear fresh cilantro leaves into pieces. In a zip-loc bag combine herbs and marinade. Add chicken and allow to marinate overnight. The next morning soak wooden skewers in water. Thread chicken with tomatoes and mushrooms. Grill over low heat until chicken is done~ only a few minutes depending on how thick the slices are.

I've also made some fresh Chimichurri to eat with the chicken. This Argentinian sauce is a combination of garlic, herbs, and olive oil that packs a flavorful punch. It goes great anytime with chicken, beef, or shrimp.
1 cup flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
3-5 garlic cloves
1/2 tsp cumin
Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Hot sauce to taste
Dice herbs and garlic. Add cumin and stir until well combined. Pour good olive oil over the top, 2-4 tablespoons. Allow to stand at room temperature 1-2 hours. This can be done in a food processor, depending on the consistency you like. If you added the olive oil in while blending in the food processor, you could make a creamier sauce.
I like my chimichurri chunkier, but watch out for parsley teeth! Your friends will eat it up ~between commercials that is.
Y'all enjoy!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Orange Shrimp

This is a shrimp dish that can be used in many ways. Here I have done it in 'k-bob" style since I was planning to use them as an appetizer at our recent 'pre-superbowl party'. ~which definitely meets the 'anything for a party' criteria!

The secret is in the marinade, an orange flavor that seeps into the shrimp. We, of course, use WhistleStop marinade. You could substitute your favorite... but it's probably not as good. ;-)

Orange Bar-b-Q Shrimp
2 pounds Jumbo shrimp
1 red onion
1 cup snow peas
2 cans mandarin oranges
1/2 cup marinade
Clean and devein shrimp. Dice onion into bite sized chunks. In a large bowl place cleaned shrimp and onion chunks. Pour over these, the juice from the canned oranges and marinade. Place in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour (or longer). Clean snow peas.
Using wooden skewers (soak in water if you are going to cook these over an open flame), load with shrimp, onions, snow peas and mandarin oranges. Baste with marinade. Bake, broil, or grill until the shrimp are pink and curled.
Orange Cocktail Sauce
1 cup regular cocktail sauce
1/4 cup orange marmalade
horseradish to taste
Combine and serve!

How easy is that? 2 pounds of large shrimp made 2o skewers... which could serve 6-20 people, depending on how greedy they are. These could also be served with a bed of rice for a pretty plate.
Y'all Enjoy!

Friday, January 19, 2007

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

If you are looking for a quick and easy way to turn plain chicken breasts into a real meal, try these stuffed chicken breasts. The stuffing is made with spinach and feta cheese. It couldn't be easier and tastes just great.
Stuffed Chicken with Spinach & Feta
4 chicken breast
1 pkg frozen spinach
1 cup 'herbal' feta cheese
1/4 cup marinade
(we use WhistleStop of course!)

Place breasts in a large zip-loc bag with marinade. Refrigerate while marinating.
Thaw and drain spinach. Combine with feta cheese, mixing well.
Place breasts in a baking dish. Slice through the thickest part of the breast to make opening for stuffing. Stuff each breast with equal part spinach mix. Pour remaining marinade over chicken. Sprinkle generously with fresh pepper .
Cover with foil, bake at 350° for 40-50 minutes, until the chicken is done. Remove foil the last 10 minutes to help the chicken to brown.
Serve with hot rice and a salad for a great meal.
Y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tag~ We're It!

This is a new one for me ... Rachel at Rachel's Bite has tagged me with a meme . (which I now know to be an internet 4 letter word) The task is to tell 6 weird things about yourself, and at the end of the post, tag 6 other bloggers.
The hard thing about this is not thinking of 6 weird things~ but thinking of weird things that I don't mind the the world knowing. Here is my list... It is a good thing Bill is not blogging this~ I'm sure his list about me would be very different!

* When I first met and started dating Bill McMichael, I had never even seen the movie 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the WhistleStop Cafe'. I rushed out and rented the movie so I would know what he was even talking about.
* I was raised a military brat, we have lived in 6 states and 3 countries. I am a southerner by choice! I've been in Alabama 35ish years, so this is home.
* When I first met Fannie Flagg she said 'It's no wonder Bill loves you... you are a redhead too!"
* We drink southern muscadine wine... only in moderation of course.
* I suffer from wanderlust. My passport is well worn, but Bill is not a traveler... I will get him to Italy one day if we have to row a boat.
* I am absolutely anti-chain-mail. I will delete a chain-mail, even if I risk missing out on incredible luck or loosing a million $.
The fact that I am so anti-chain makes it really hard for me to tag anyone else, but I will play along. It is fun to see just how weird people really are! So here goes:

You can choose to ignore this if you too, are anti-chain!
The least weird person I know would be Palma Bella
Chef Yum Yum has the most Yummy blog.
Indah has a collection of Food Scribbles from Siena, Italy.
In San Francisco there are a couple of self proclaimed food dorks who are Married With Dinner
I really want to know what goes on Inside The Shell
Finally, a peak into Britt-Arnhild's House In The Woods where I bet some real weird stuff happens!
Thanks for the fun y'all.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Spring Rolls

One of my New Year's promises was to eat more sushi. Really there are a lot of things I like... but I have steered away from 'serious' sushi. If you have ever been deep sea fishing and then watched the deck boys clean the fish on the docks at the Orange Beach marina~ that would steer anyone away from raw fish!

Spring rolls~or veggie rolls~ are a sushi type appetizer I love. They are fun and easy to make. It is one of those dishes that you can add a pinch of this and a pinch of that... what ever you have on hand. The rice wrappers are pretty easy to find at an Asian food store and store well in the pantry until you are ready to use them. This time I just used veggies, but I also like using cooked shrimp, squash, or avocados. It does take a little practice to get them rolled perfectly~ give it a try!

Spring Rolls
8 rice wrappers
8 large shrimp
1 cucumber, julienned
1 carrot, shredded
1/4 cup bean sprouts
3 Tbs fresh basil
3 Tbs fresh mint
3 Tbs fresh cilantro
Prep by dicing shrimp, shredding veggies and chopping fresh herb leaves; set aside. Fill a large pyrex dish filled with hot water. Lay each rice wrapper into the dish of hot water to soften. Gently lay on a flat surface. Fill with veggies, bean sprouts, and herbs leaving generous edges. Fold in both square angles, then roll tightly from one angle to the other. Store in the refrigerator covered with a damp paper towel until ready to serve. Serve with our Thai Peanut Dip or a store bought ginger dip.

Peanut Dip
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
2 Tbs soy sauce
4 tsp minced garlic
1/3 cup hot water
2 Tbs apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tsp sugar
hot sauce to taste
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl, wisk until well blended. Serve at room temp. For thicker dip add less water.
We have often made a meal of just these spring rolls. They are so light, and packed with flavor. The best part is how fun they can be to make~ get your friends together and make a mess of them.
Try it y'all!

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Working Kitchen

Recently I posted about our kitchen in a blog event started by Lucuilian Delights. I received lots of comments~ I love it when y'all drop by. In one of the comments TerryB, mentioned a working kitchen she saw in a Chicago restaurant. In spite of being very small it turned out lovely appetizers for the entire bar. It got me to thinking about the old kitchen at the WhistleStop Cafe.
I am sure every restaurant has things about their kitchen that they would change (a lot like our homes!) When Mom & Dad bought the cafe from Bess Fortenberry in 1973, the kitchen was already incredibly small and outdated. Yet still they managed to turn out thousands of fried green tomatoes, pots of greens and mashed potatoes, and pans of fried chicken. Dad would sit in the kitchen and make his homemade desserts~ mississippi mud, coconut cake, and strawberry shortcake. They served hundreds of people 6 days a week, sometimes 2 meals a day. It was nearly 20 years later when they would finally expand the kitchen, and then expand again years later to include a dishwasher and a walk-in freezer.

We may not have the perfect kitchen, the perfect stove or oven, the perfect dishes. The important thing is that the food that comes out of our kitchens is the best, and that we share it warmly with friends and family.
Y'all invite someone to supper!

Friday, January 05, 2007

You inspire me!

I am a newbie to this bloggin' thing. As with most things I tackle, I only know one way and that is to jump in head first. I have spent hours looking at other blogs, posting really stupid questions, and absorbing information like a sponge. I have found many favorites, and have made a link to some. Check them out...those are blog links not sausage links.

I was glad when I saw that the Well Fed Network had chosen the best food blogs for 2006. Two of my favorites were nominated (must show my good taste in food blogs!). Nicole at Pinch My Salt was nominated for the Best New Food Blog. You can vote for Nicole, she is up against Rachel Ray, and some other Big Dogs. The Passionate Cook has been nominated for Best Overall Blog and also for the Most Original Recipes. You will have to vote and vote again. Johanna is a little behind the last I checked so could use a vote...she doesn't need to be drinking any champagne just yet (until after the baby comes).

Another new blog I have just added is my friend Palma @ slow travel. She is an inspiring cook, decorator, bead stringer, shopper, traveler, and all 'round entertainer. Her blog is Palma Bella's Passion , and it already promises to be full of fun things. Not to mention that her husband Brad looks to much like Bill~ two good looking silver foxes!

Too much passion in this post!
Thanks y'all for your help~

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The heart of our home

The kitchen is definitely the center of our home. It is where the mail gets dropped, where the dog flops on the floor, it is where we gather around the island and share our day. It is also where the cakes rise, the coffee perks, and a big pot of gumbo stews. No matter how big or small the party, this is the room that fills first and empties last. It is the heart of our home.
Although there is a test kitchen at our WhistleStop warehouse, most of the playing goes on at home. We have used this kitchen to test many a product, from chili to marinade. Some products (thankfully) you will never see. Recipes are tweeked, and cookbooks have been created on this very lap top, at this very table.

I posted in November about some home projects in the kitchen. Covering old/dated wall paper with a light venetian type plaster. The before and after pictures are amazing. I think HGTV may be calling me anyday for my own show.

I loved the idea when ILVA suggested we invite other bloggers into our kitchens. So, first let me clean it up a bit, and put on a pot of coffee...

Y'all come on in!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Promises for the year

I had said that I wasn't going to make resolutions for the new year. Most resolutions go by the wayside with the diet food and the treadmill after only a few months. I start off strong~ then fade out by the middle of January.
After giving it some thought, I have decided to make a list of things that I am going to accomplish this year. Not so much resolutions, but a list of 10 promises to myself. You might even call it a to-do list for 2007.

*paint my toe-nails Strawberry Margarita pink
*learn to like sushi
*sing 'Amazing Grace' when there is a beautiful sunset
*make a snow angel on the sandy beach
*wear sunscreen~ all the time
*ride in a London cab
*use whitening toothpaste
*drive a smart car
*throw away things that are out of date
*be healthier by drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate

I could go on...once you get started it is hard to stop!
I hope that we can find humanity and peace in this big world, and that each of you can find the promise in the new year.
Happy New Year Y'all!
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