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, March 31, 2009

A sign of the times...

I guess this is a sign of the times.

Our Pier 1 is closing.
It is a shame when a great store like Pier 1 can't keep the doors open and WalMart is crowded 24-7. It is a cryin' shame!
On the other hand 25%-50% off is to good to resist. I wish I could think of a place to hang this little chandelier.
In the mean time we need to something to stimulate the economy.
Y'all support the little guy!

Monday, March 30, 2009


Lindsay is hosting a 5$ redecorating challenge. You won't believe some of the great ideas for decorating with 5 bucks. I have linked up at Living With Lindsay to show off the $5 re-do of my living room.

Actually, I came in Under Budget! (I WILL be reminding Bill of this frequently!!!)

When we first moved in 7 years ago I loved the Ralph Lauren red...
But I was ready for a change!
I had an old bucket of paint from when we had first moved in. It has been stored in the garage, so was still in perfect condition in it's original paint can. I took it back to Home Depot and asked them to shake it up (I will admit that I didn't mention that it was 7 year old paint) I had brushes and a roller from a previous project.
I like the lighter color so much.
All it cost was $3.00 for a new bottle of Aleve to get me moving in the morning.

That is what you call Free-Styling.
Now, my next project may not be so under budget!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Slow Soupers ~Curry Mee

Our Sunday Slow Soupers choice this week is from Marta at Postcards From The Trail. She picked one of my favorite Thai soups~ Curry Mee.
This is a great spicy soup that when combined with the rice noodles makes a filling dinner. I don't think there is any substitution for the glassy rice noodles when it comes to soup. They are great!
Coconut Curry Chicken Noodle Soup (Curry Mee)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, minced1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced lemon grass or pale green cilantro roots
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dark red chili paste, such as sambal, more for serving
3/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken thigh or breast meat, thinly sliced and cut into bite-size pieces
3 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Malaysian, Thai or Vietnamese
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 can (14 ounces) unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup half-and-half
4 cups chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar, more to taste
About 12 kaffir lime leaves or curry leaves, fresh or frozen (optional)
8 ounces dried thin rice noodles (bun or vermicelli), or other Asian noodles such as udon or lai fun
Salt to taste
1 cup bean sprouts
3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
2 scallions, cut into thin rings
2 shallots, thinly sliced and deep fried in vegetable oil until brown (optional)
Quartered limes for serving.
Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, ginger and lemon grass and cook, stirring, until softened, about 10 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary.

Add garlic and chili paste and stir until fragrant. Raise heat, add chicken and stir-fry one minute. Add curry powder and paprika and stir to coat.
Then add coconut milk, half-and-half, chicken stock, turmeric, fish sauce, sugar and lime or curry leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 7 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook rice noodles in boiling water according to package directions (about 4 minutes). Rinse and drain.

Taste broth and adjust seasonings with salt and sugar. Divide noodles into large soup bowls. Bring broth to a boil, then ladle over noodles. Top with bean sprouts, cilantro, scallions and fried shallots, if using. Pass limes and sambal at the table.
The only thing I changed is adding shrimp instead of the chicken and a few veggies to the mix. This is a filling meal... even Bill agreed that this is not your usual soup.
We'll be having this again.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ Hands

The photo hunt for this week is 'hand' .This is 'little Luke'...who is not so little any more.

Happy Hunting Y'all!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Bake up a Batch

Amy at i food is having a baking event. The deadline is March 31st and the only requirement is that you turn on the oven. There will be a roundup of some great recipes for us to check out. Y'all know we have been trying to cut back the calories~ so no carrot cake this time around. Instead, how bout some crunchy, nutty, granola? This is yummy enough to eat by itself, in a yogurt sunday, or on a salad.

Nutty Granola
1/4 cup sunflowers
1/4 cup chopped nuts (almonds, pecans, or pistachios)
2 Tbs sesame seeds
2 Tbs flax seeds
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tbs maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups oats
Pre heat oven to 350°
Combine the nuts, sesame seeds, and flax seeds in a pan and lightly toast to bring out the flavor. Cover raisins and cranberries with orange juice and set aside. In a large sauce pan, melt butter sugar and syrup over low heat. Combine until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in vanilla. Stir in nuts and raisins with juice. Next, stir in oats and mix until well blended. Spread out onto a sil pat or cookie sheet. Bake for 25-30 minutes. When cooled, break into chunks and store in an airtight container. This adds a nutty crunch that you'll love. I sprinkled it on my yogurt with mandarin oranges. Not bad for healthy eatin'.

Y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This is a fun day!
Cindy Ruth at Baked Alaska has passed me the Fabulous Award.

I am thrilled~ I have always wanted to be fabulous!

As a part of this award I have to list 5 things I think are fabulous...
*A day at the beach is fabulous!
*I feel fabulous when I get to soak in a bubble bath.
*An evening playing dominos with friends is fabulous.
*It doesn't get much more fabulous than scallops wrapped in bacon.
*I think it is fabulous that Melissa is now dancing with the stars!

The second part of the Fabulous award is to name 5 other fabulous blogs.

~Just A Beach Kat is the first blogger who comes to my mind. Kathy is a fabulous in real life as she is in blogdom.
~Southern Hospitality IS Rhoda! Or... is Rhoda southern fabulous hospitality
~Leigh of Bloggeritaville is my beachy, Margaritagrill kind of girl. Her photography is fabulous.
~The Lettered Cottage is Layla's fabulous cottage. This girl has talent and an eye for the fab.
~Nicki Crumpet at Blah, Blah, Blah never fails to make me laugh. I leave her blog with a smile on my face. Now, that is fabulous!

Thank you Cindy.
Y'all are all fabulous!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Happy Spring

In spite of the terrible pollen, spring is beautiful here.
The cherry trees are blooming in our front yard.
Even the bees know that winter is behind us.
Happy spring y'all!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Slow Soupers ~Carrot's

Sunday Slow Soupers again!

It is Debrah's turn to suggest her favorite soup. She picked a guaranteed winner from her catering days. She didn't have exact measurements, but explained her process carefully. It is creamy and flavorful, without added fat or cream.

Carrot Ginger Soup
One large onion - diced (I don’t cook with onions, so I would use a combination of green onions and shallots but you can use all or either)
Three cloves garlic minced or crushed
Three inch piece of ginger root - finely diced (you can use more or less depending on preference)
Eight large carrots (diced)
One Large tetra pack of chicken or vegetable broth
One and a half cups of orange juice

Saute onions, garlic and ginger in olive oil on low heat to soften and start to caramelize for only 10 minutes. Put in carrots and saute for 5 minutes to bring out the sugars. Add enough broth to cover the carrots and simmer till carrots are tender.Remove from heat, place a small amount of broth and all of the carrots into blender and puree until smooth. Pour back into pot, add orange juice and rest of broth (or water) until you get the thickness consistency you desire.
This soup is a guaranteed winner!

A perfect carrot soup for Easter dinner.

It was sweet with a spice of ginger and citrus. Next time I might add a sweet potato for a little more depth of flavor. I topped my soup with some zesty pepper and a garnish of orange zest.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ yellow

The Photo Hunt for this week is 'yellow'
I had lots of pictures of daffodils, yellow bells, daisies and day lillies.
I have photos of lemons, of egg yolks, pies and pasta.
Instead I decided to post the one thing that everyone from Alabama will recognise...


Happy hunting y'all

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lighter Lasagna

We are still on the hunt for some great low calorie meals. Eating healthy has to be a way of life... not just one or two weeks of 'rabbit food'.
This is a great recipe for a filling lasagna, using low fat cottage cheese, spinach and cutting back a little on the noodles. I had some left over chicken breast from the last time we grilled out. Quick, easy, and light.

Chicken Florentine Lasagna
2 T butter
3 T flour
1 cup skim milk
1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg
garlic salt & pepper
6 lasagna noodles
2 chicken breasts
1 bag baby spinach
1 small onion thinly sliced
3/4 cup reduced fat pizza blend cheese
Pre heat oven to 350°
Melt butter and combine flour in a skillet, cook for a minute. Slowly add milk, stirring to make a thick white sauce. Add nutmeg, garlic salt, and pepper generously to taste. Stir in 1/2 cup cottage cheese and set aside. Pull chicken into small bite sized pieces.
Using a 9x9 baking dish: start with cooking spray, layer a small amount sauce. Next 2-3 noodles, chicken, spinach leaves & onions, now sauce. Repeat the layer with noodles, meat, veggies and sauce.
Cover with foil. Bake at 350° for 50 minutes, until noodles are tender through. Uncover, top with grated cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to melt the cheese. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve with a nice side salad.
Y'all enjoy!

Monday, March 16, 2009

For the Irish

If you remember, last year I spent several posts quoting Irish sayings from this fun site. I think the Irish in me relates to these clever sayings. (A little Alabama Irish?)
Bill loves to refer to his friend Murphy. Ole Murph visits the WhistleStop warehouse a little to frequently.
Murphy's Law
Nothing is as easy as it looks.
Everything takes longer than you expect. And if anything can go wrong, It will, at the worst possible moment.
I'm partial to this quote on Irish Men...
There are only three kinds of Irish men who can't understand women— young men, old men, and men of middle age.
And for the future...
Wherever you go and whatever you do,
May the luck of the Irish be there with you.

Sláinte y'all!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Slow Soupers ~One of Each

Another Sunday, another Slow Souper recipe. This recipe is one of Jan's favorites. I have to admit that when she first posted it, I was a bit of a sceptic. A soup with a potato, an apple, and a banana?? You must be kidding. In the spirit of St Patrick's day and friendship... I made it anyway.
What a surprise! The curry adds a wonderful flavor ~as well as a pretty green color.

Curry Soup
(One of a Kind)

1 large boiling potato (1/2 lb), peeled and coarsely chopped (I use Yukon Gold)
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 celery heart (inner pale stalks with leaves), coarsely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 large apple (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and coarsely chopped
1 firm-ripe banana, coarsely chopped
1 pint chicken broth
1 cup heavy cream (I use whole milk)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 rounded teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (I have used chives or cilantro or a mixture)
Simmer vegetables and fruits in broth in a 3-quart heavy saucepan, covered, until very tender, about 12 minutes.
Stir in cream, butter, curry powder, and salt and heat just until hot (do not boil).
Purée soup in a blender until smooth (use caution when blending hot liquids). Thin soup with water if desired and serve sprinkled with chives.
Cooks' note:·Soup can be made 2 days ahead and chilled, covered.
I used cilantro- since I am a cilantro fiend- and milk rather than cream. I added just a pinch of red pepper flakes for a kick.
This soup is wonderful. You don't taste the apple or banana, rather a slightly sweet and savory cream. The leftovers will be used as a curry sauce latter in the week.

Y'all enjoy!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ four

The photo hunt for this week is 'four'.
These are photos of 'Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi" or the Fountain of Four Rivers in Rome.
It is one of Bernini's amazing creations.
We'll have an up close view in May when we are drinking cappuccino in Piazza Navona!
Y'all enjoy!

Friday, March 13, 2009

BIG weekend plans

This weekend we are going to stay close to home. In fact Sunday I plan to get up early and put my makeup on before I even fix my coffee.
I'll plan to keep my pink bathrobe on till noon.
I am going to just sit around and decide what to with this little ole house.Because I am winning the HGTV Dream Home. (I think) See Y'all Sunday on HGTV!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Salmon another way

Salmon is one of those meals that is quick and easy. I usually run by the store on the way home from work to pick up fresh salmon. A couple of fillets are quick and easy~ and fill us up with those healthy omega's.

This is a great salmon recipe... it would work with chicken too! The fennel and onions make it extra special. It is just perfect for two.

Salmon with Fennel
WhistleStop Marinade (optional)
2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
1/4 cup butter
1 onion, sliced
1 fennel bulb sliced
2 Tbs olive oil
2 large salmon fillets
2 Tbs white wine
To start, marinade salmon in whistlestop marinade for 15-20 minutes. (you can substitute your favorite marinade... but it won't be nearly as good:-) )
In a skillet stir crushed fennel seeds over medium heat until warmed and fragrant. Remove seeds to a small bowl. Add butter, fennel and onions, saute until onions are transparent. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook fennel for 6-8 minutes until tender. Transfer fennel and onion to the bowl with the fennel seeds.
Add olive oil to the same skillet, cover and cook salmon for about 5 minutes on one side over medium head. Turn fillets, add wine and cook for another 3-5 minutes. As the salmon is done top with fennel and heat through.
Serve with brown rice and a nice salad. It can't get any easier than that!

Y'all enjoy,

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Widget mania~

Somebody Stop Me!
In addition to my new Italian word a day widget... I have added a Link Within widget. This widget helps y'all see what we have been doing at the cafe over the last 3 years. You can click on the photos and go to previous posts.
That is the last widget... I swear!
Y'all hold me to it.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Ya-Ya Yummy

While we were in Pensacola we ate at another fabulous place~ The Fish House. Their Grits and Shrimp Ya-Ya is worth the trip! It is a casual resturant near Seville Square right on the bay at the marina. The Oyster bar next door has a similar menu and a more casual atmosphere.

I am going to have to make those gouda grits with a creamy ya-ya sauce; I may have to scale it down a bit to fit into our new diet. It was awesome at the Fish House... though I am not sure why any good chef feels the need to add MSG to spice up shrimp. It is without a doubt one of my all time favorites.

You can find all kinds of things on the internet... Here is the recipe from Jim Shirley's cookbook 'Good Grits'. That might be a cookbook I have to add to my collection.
Grits a' Ya Ya

Smoked Gouda Cheese Grits
1 quart of chicken stock
1 cup heavy cream
1 pound Dixie Lily grits
1/4 pound shredded smoked Gouda cheese
The Ya Ya
8 strips of applewood-smoked bacon, diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced shallots
3 tablespoons butter
White wine
1 pound peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp
1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced
1/4 cup diced scallions
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups heavy cream
3 cups smoked Gouda cheese grits
Salt, pepper and hot sauce to taste
First, make your grits. Run the chicken stock into a thick-bottomed saucepan and turn on high til it boils. Mix in the grits and stir like crazy. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream if you need more liquid. Then tumble in the butter, drizzle in the rest of the cream and stir till it's all in the family. Then shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well till it's all nice and smooth.

While your grits cook, bring a large saucepan to medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots. Saute and then add butter and a splash of white wine. When the butter is half-melted, add the shrimp. When the downsides of the shrimp become white, flip them and add mushrooms, scallions and spinach. Saute for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp, Pour in heavy cream and let simmer while stirring. When reduced by one third, add salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return shrimp to the sauce and combine. Spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of cheese grits. Source:Good Girts by Jim Shirley

Y'all enjoy!

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Italian style~

This week's soup from our Slow Travel Soupers is actually a recipe from It is a warm and filling Italian Minestone. I am also going to use this as my Italian recipe for Maryann and Marie's 2nd annual Festa Italiana~ I can't resist an Italian party! Last year I took Tiramisu for everyone.
The base of this soup is an Italian soffritto~ pancetta, onion, and celery. This is all slowly cooked down to develop the flavor. A small amount of tomato paste is browned, then mixed in with more tomatoes and the rind of parmesan cheese. The greens, beans, and pasta are added in the end for a soup that is nothing less than perfetto!

Italian Minestrone

1/3 lb sliced pancetta, chopped
3 medium red onions, chopped
4 celery ribs, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch Swiss chard
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 (28-oz) can whole tomatoes in juice
1 qt hot water
5 cups coarsely chopped cored Savoy cabbage (6 oz)
5 cups coarsely chopped escarole (1/2 lb)
1 piece Parmigiano-Reggiano rind (about 3 by 1 1/2 inches)
1 (19-oz) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
cooked ditalini pasta tossed with oil
grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Cook pancetta, onions, celery, and carrots in oil in a wide 7- to 9-qt heavy pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally, while preparing chard.
Cut out stems from chard and chop stems, reserving leaves. Stir chard stems into pancetta mixture with garlic, 1 tsp salt, and 3/4 tsp pepper and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are very tender and begin to stick to bottom of pot, about 45 minutes total. (Set aside chard leaves.)
Push vegetables to one side of pot. Add tomato paste to cleared area and cook, stirring constantly, until it starts to caramelize, about 2 minutes. Stir paste into vegetables and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. (Paste may stick to pot, but don’t let it burn.)
Stir in tomatoes with their juice, breaking them up with a spoon, then add hot water (3 qt), scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot.
Bring to a simmer. Stir in cabbage, escarole, and parmesan rind. Simmer, covered, until greens are tender, about 40 minutes.
Coarsely chop chard leaves and stir into soup along with beans. Simmer, partially covered, 10 minutes. Discard rind. Season soup with salt and pepper. If using ditalini, stir in just before serving.

Don't y'all think this is the perfect dish to take to the Festa Italiana? I wonder what everyone else will be bringing? You have until March 9th to join the party.

Ciao y'all

Friday, March 06, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ Space

The photo hunt for this week is 'space'
Mind the Gap~ which translates in Southernese to~
'y'all don't trip in the space'.
opps~ wrong date. I'm early (for once)
Y'all enjoy!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Pensacola highlights!

While we were in Pensacola, we found the time to go to McGuire's Irish Pub This is a Pensacola tradition. Our dollar bills have been up on the ceiling for years.
McGuire's is known for its great steaks, burgers, and seafood. Of course any Irish pub is also known for its home brews... and some green drink served in a mason jar. (no we didn't risk it!)Being the weekend right after Mardi Gras and the time leading up St Patricks day... this place was jumping.
Just a Beach Kat posted on Duh! the home and garden center in downtown Pensacola, near McGuire's. We have been going to Pensacola for 25 years and have driven by this place hundreds of time. Kat convinced us to stop in. Holly and I wandered around with our jaws dropping.
Lots of pictures and some fabulous ideas.
I have a special one for the centerpiece posts this month.
Nothing would fit in the trunk (this trip).
Y'all enjoy!
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