Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer on a Plate

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Today is Memorial Day which usually means parties and eating yummy BBQ but that's not going to happen today and I'm bummed. First of all, I had gum grafting done about 6 days ago so I won't be biting into any ribs or burgers for a month. Second, I now have what I think is a sinus infection and feel like crud. Boo! Since I'm here whining about not being able to eat I thought I'd share with you a couple of my favorite summertime recipes. I look at this picture and think that it is just "summer on a plate" and it makes me drool! These beans are soooo good! I hate when baked beans have floppy bacon in them and the crispy bacon in these is perfect. If you take them to a potluck definitely double the recipe because every last bean will be GONE! This is my favorite macaroni salad and I was so happy to find it. It tastes just like my mom's, who when I asked, said she didn't have a recipe for. Enjoy these at your backyard cookouts this summer!

by Charlotte Hancey
serves 6

2 one lb cans pork and beans
2/3 C ketchup
1 1/2 C onions, chopped in bite sized pieces (I use yellow onions)
3/4 C brown sugar
6 slices bacon, chopped in bite sized pieces
1 tsp dry mustard
1 TB worchestershire sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper (or more if you like)

You'll need a large pot that can be used on the stovetop and in the oven. Preheat oven to 325.

Fry bacon in pot until almost crisp. Drain about 3/4 of the grease then add the onions and cook until bacon is crisp and onions are tender. Mix the rest of the ingredients into pot. Cover and bake 1 1/2 hours at 325. Uncover the last 20-30 minutes.

These beans freeze well. I like to make a double batch and freeze in portions for my family.

serves 10

4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
1 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
2/3 cup white sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (optional)

1.Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
2.In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.
CHAR'S NOTES: The recipe is very versatile when it comes to the veggies. The way I like it is with chopped cucumbers, green onions, black olives, grated carrot, and any kind of bell pepper. Neither Ben or I like raw celery so I always replace it with cucumbers. Just use the base recipe and add whatever veggies you have on hand. Even tomatoes would be great!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Cruise Food!

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The food on our Royal Caribbean cruise deserves it's own post so excuse me while I indulge myself in remembering it. This particular cruise ship (or line-not sure)doesn't do the lavish midnight buffets anymore because we were told it was a waste of uneaten food. That didn't matter, though, because food was everywhere! The first couple of nights, dinner wasn't amazing. Our dinner companions probably thought we were the pickiest people because while they all devoured theirs, we complained about it. We're picky foodies though! :)
The first port we went to on day 3 was Haiti which is RC's private island. They served a huge buffet that was so good Ben and I were like "Why don't they just serve this at dinner?" LOL! They served Jamaican jerk chicken that was soooo good and some kind of BBQ pork. After that, though, we were not disappointed and loved our dinners on the ship. On night 2 I tried two new things: escargot and duck. The escargot, though drowning in butter, was awful! I was the only one at my table that didn't like it. The texture wasn't bad but the aftertaste was like dirt. I did really like the duck which surprised me. My favorite night of all was the Venetian night with the yummy Italian food. I had a scallop risotto for my appetizer, chicken marsala for entree, then warm chocolate cake AND rasberry panna cotta for desert. Every single bite that night was incredible! The warm chocolate cake was the most delicious thing I ate the entire trip. That unassuming little piece of cake blew me away! It looked like a molten cake but was firmer and so rich that I asked for a glass of milk. The head waiter thought it was funny that I asked for one but it was the perfect accompaniament. Speaking of the head waiter, Charanjeet was so personable and nice and our regular waiter, Ketut, was great too. I think it was night 3 that Charanjeet was talking to us and asked if we liked Indian food. Some of us did and some hadn't tried it so he brought us butter chicken, naan, and lentils that weren't on the menu. It was so good! On the 2nd formal night we had lobster and prime rib which we looked forward to and weren't disappointed in any way. Ben had two plates of lobster and one of prime rib! Our waiter told us that the record was 35 lobster tails. 35! I guess you have to take advantage of that when you're cruising because what other time could you do that?
We had some food at ports that was amazing too. In Ochos Rios, Jamaica I was so excited to have some more jerk chicken. Our tour guide took us to a shopping area with a Hard Rock Cafe and said that they had jerk chicken. "But I want REAL jerk chicken!" I said to him but he assured me that it was authentic. I ordered a jerk chicken sandwich and it was to die for! They served this interesting, very spicy sauce on the side which was so good we asked to buy a bottle. It has guava, red pepper flakes, and vinegar in it, among other things. In Grand Cayman we stopped at some little outdoor fast food kind of place to grab a quick bite. We ordered 2 ham and cheese croissants not thinking much of it but to our surprise it was delicious! He cut the croissant and made it like a grilled ham and cheese. I really wanted to try the conch fritters I saw advertised at a restaurant on our way back but didn't have time. Most days too we'd get back on the ship at around 4 or so and grab some great little sandwiches at a cafe on the ship. We didn't have dinner until 8:30 so it was a great chance to eat again! Then in Cozumel we went to Pancho's Backyard for lunch and it was really great too. We ordered mahi mahi fish tacos and they were the best fried fish tacos that we had ever had. Their guacamole was so creamy and yummy too! As we were sitting in this beautiful, outdoors restaurant Ben said to me, "You're finally eating your favorite, Mexican food, IN Mexico!" Love it! I wish I had taken pictures of that meal.
Are you hungry yet? I am! I want to go back! I had to warn our dinner companions the first night that I was going to be taking pics of my food for my blog (and memories!) so they didn't think I was crazy. These pictures don't do the food justice though. The lighting was bad and I was in a hurry to devour it! You'll notice that there are mostly dessert pictures and that is because I was so hungry when the appetizer and entree got to me that I'd forget to take pics. It was funny because the first night the 6 of us were very conservative with our food selections and just ordered one appetizer, entree, and dessert. Then as the nights progressed and we got comfortable with each other we were all ordering 2-3 of each course and eating off each other's plates! When I got home I was SEVEN pounds heavier but it was worth every single bite! Ok, so if you're not hungry yet you will be now because here are the pictures!

My Hard Rock Cafe awesome Jamaican meal. Ya mon it was good!

Strawberry Meringue-pretty but way too sweet

Pork tenderloin, lentils with green beans, and au gratin potatoes

Pina Colada Tart

I had this AND a plate of prime rib. No shame here!

Cute little dessert trio: Rum cake, very fudgy brownie, and lemon cheesecake

Warm Chocolate Cake AKA "The Best Dessert I've Ever Had in My Whole Life!"

Rasberry Panna Cotta