Another Crowded Closet Find...

Here is another Crowded Closet Thrift Store "score"...

When I saw this shelf in the thrift store in Iowa City, I just knew it would look great in our kitchen in Fort Lauderdale...

Do you agree??

Applesauce Raisin Bars

I finally decided it was time to BAKE something here in Fort I looked in my cupboards to see what I had on hand.

So these Applesauce Raisin Bars were born...


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/3 c brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups applesauce
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup raisins

Soak raisins in some hot water for about ten minutes to soften...then discard water. (Wish I could use it for the nutrients and flavor, but would have to adjust the dry ingredients.  No time to play with the recipe now-maybe later!) Set aside the plump raisins.

Cream butter and brown sugar, then beat in eggs until fluffy.  Add applesauce.  In separate bowl combine all dry ingredients and mix well.  Stir dry ingredients into butter mixture and combine.  Add plumped raisins and stir all together.

Spread into a greased sheet pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until done.  Cool and frost as desired.  (I combined butter, cream cheese, salt, vanilla, powdered sugar and milk to make my usual cream cheese frosting.)

SunKiss Nursery

What a GREAT way to spend part of a January morning!  We stopped at the most gorgeous nursery to pick up several plants to brighten up our patio...

The staff at SunKiss Nursery take great pride in their work...and it shows.  All over the two acre property...

After a few minutes, it was hard to remember it's really January.
The blooming plants were EVERYWHERE!

Two things became apparent very quickly...
1.  The plants are VERY HEALTHY.
2.  The plants are INEXPENSIVE!

How inexpensive???

99 Cents Each!

87 Cents!
 A wonderful stroll through beautiful flowers...and now some beautiful color on our patio...

Telemundo...Next Door!

At 6:30 this morning I looked out our bedroom window and I watched as a catering company began to set up tents and food equipment outside a business located across a parking lot from our condo.

I thought it was probably a Chamber of Commerce breakfast...And since the morning was picture-perfect, I figured they wanted to eat outside.

Boy...was I wrong!!!

It wasn't long before a caravan of trucks and equipment began to roll in...and the REAL set-up began.

You know me...I just HAD to walk over to investigate.

Turns out, they're filming scenes for a "telenovela" (a Spanish soap opera!) inside the building today.  (The building normally houses a nightclub/party rental venue on the weekends.)

The catering crew told me they've been up since 3:30 this morning...and they are providing three meals today.

A young man, Carlos, told me they are filming "A Cowboy Show" that supposedly takes place in Houston.  I didn't see any cowboy hats...but I saw lots of young ladies wearing spike heels and "nightclub" attire.  Not sure how the two will be woven together...

UPDATE:  It's now 7:30pm...and the catering staff is now serving dinner to those long-suffering actors, extras, and film crew.  It will be interesting to see how late they all work tonight.  (All the "action" is happening inside the building so there has been no disturbance for us.)

I'm still hoping for some horses and maybe a shoot-out in the OK Corral/Parking lot.  But I'm guessing it might be rather hard for those scantily clad actresses to climb into the saddle wearing eight inch heels and leopard tights.  (Definitely NOT "Miss Kitty Approved" attire!)

Stay tuned...and I'll brush up on my Spanish, just in case I hear trouble a'brew'n and guns a'blazin!

Yak-Zie's Bar and Grill

We are always on the look-out for interesting places to eat...And we've driven by this spot for years.  So at lunchtime today I said it was time to check it out...

And I must admit...this sign on their building made me want to try it...

The food was good (when it finally arrived)...but that's about all I can say for the place...

When we walked through the door we were hit by a wall of SMOKERS air.  (Apparently Florida has found a loophole to allow smoking in some establishments.)

We split a Reuben Sandwich and Fries...
And let's just say the bartender/server was MUCH more interested in her conversation with one of the "locals" than she was in taking our order.  In fact, they finished a FIVE MINUTE chat before she could take time to write up our request...although she did refill our Diet Cokes as we ate.  (So very kind of her!)

I'd say this place gives new meaning to the term "Dive Bar"..

So because of the "smokey non-service" I'm guessing their sign may be true.  There  IS a chance they all MAY starve at Yak-Zie's.  But WE will be well-fed since we have so many REALLY GREAT places to eat!  We just won't be going back to Yak-Zie's.  Once was more than enough.

Cypress Nook Restaurant

Today we headed back to a really yummy breakfast spot...Cypress Nook.  It is run by an incredibly friendly German lady who always takes time to wander among her diners and chat.  It's a Mom and Pop sort of place...and it's a great spot to sit outside on a beautiful Winter morning.

Their menu is a good one..and their breakfast specials even include coffee.

Today I chose Eggs Benedict...and it was a delicious choice.

Hubby picked ham and eggs...and he LOVES the ham they serve.  (It's a manly slice!)

The outdoor dining is arranged around a HUGE cypress tree in the courtyard...

And each of the picnic tables sports a big umbrella to provide shade.

It's a wonderful place to sit back, sip the good coffee, read the paper, and contemplate your day.

A good start, in my book!

Roasted Tomatoes

Tonight we're having fish...and for once I'm not in the mood to make a huge salad.  So I'm making a oven baked Potato Gratin and some easy Roasted Tomatoes topped with an herb, Parmesan cheese and breadcrumb topping. 

Easy Peasey!

In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, dried or fresh herbs (thyme, parsley, rosemary...whatever combo you like) and add some grated parmesan cheese and garlic-either fresh or powder.  Drizzle in a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and mix until crumbly.  Cut some Roma tomatoes in half and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then top with the bread crumb mixture.  Bake in a hot oven (400-425) for about 15-20 minutes or until the tomatoes are bubbly and the topping starts to brown.

Drizzle with a little more EVOO before serving...

Roasted Tomatoes...A great side dish on a day when I'm taking a break from salad prep!

Meemaw's Meatballs...Then...And Now

As I sorted photos on my phone, I came across these photos of Emma and Delaney.  It shows how long these little chefs have been perfecting their techniques for making Meemaw's Meatballs!

Here...In 2010...Their first attempt...My proud little chefs...

In 2013...Adding a Mozzarella Surprise...

And in 2014...Delaney graduated to SAUCE!

For me, these memories are PRICELESS.
And the skills they've mastered will be with them long after I'm gone.
What an AWESOME legacy to leave behind!

The Over Easy Diner, Wilton Manors, FL

Nothing Fancy...Just GOOD.
That's all I have to say about this place...

It's worth a trip...and the cook and the staff will make you feel like family.

A Tale of Tomatoes...

I came across this picture on my phone, and I decided to share it with all of you.

Believe it or not...I picked these little beauties on the last day before a hard frost in Iowa last Fall... and they were bright green when I picked them.  Then I simply put them in this dish on my kitchen counter...and I basically forgot about them.  And Mother Nature worked her magic.

Just look at them...MORE THAN A MONTH LATER.

All ready for a salad...FINALLY.

(Patience IS a virtue, you know.)

(And our salad that night never tasted better.)

Stir-Fry...A Healthy Dinner Tonight

Today was a beautiful day...and when dinnertime arrived, I wanted something quick and a stir-fry sounded perfect.

First, I prepared a packet of yellow saffron rice...but instead of just boiling it, I placed the dry rice and seasonings in a saucepan and added a tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and stirred for a minute over high heat to toast the rice.  Then I added the liquid--half water and half chicken broth.  I popped a lid on the pan and undercooked the rice by several minutes.  I then spread the rice out to cool quickly so it wouldn't get sticky.

Then I chopped LOTS of veggies and set aside.

I partially thawed two pork chops and I sliced them very thin...

COOKING TIP-When you want to slice meat thinly, slice it while it's partially frozen.  It's much easier to slice!

In a wok I quickly stir-fried the pork and removed to a plate as I cooked the rest of the this order...
Onions, celery, garlic, carrots, broccoli.

I made a "slurry" of corn starch, chicken broth and soy sauce, and stirred it into the al dente veggies...and as the sauce thickened I added more chicken broth.  And I threw in the cooked pork and tossed all the ingredients together.

I re-heated the rice, and dinner was ready....

A real One Pot Wonder...and a Rainbow On A Plate!

Seven Whole Grains...A Delicious Side Dish!

As most of you know...I cook most everything "from scratch".

But I found a delicious, quick, and HEALTHY side dish made by a company called Seeds Of Change...

This seven grain product is already prepared and sold in a microwaveable pouch.  (It only takes NINETY SECONDS to prepare!)

I served it with a pork chop prepared with a fresh rosemary pan sauce.

 A quick and healthy dish that was a welcome change from the same old starches like potatoes or rice.

(It was so good I bought three more pouches at Aldi's before they're sold out!)

For The BIRDS...

As I walked back to our condo after taking a class at our nearby Recreation Center, I noticed this sign leading up to the drawbridge that crosses the IntraCoastal Waterway.  These Florida drivers need reminders that the bridge might be slippery...when wet??

HA!  They have no idea what SLIPPERY means...

Even the BIRDS are walking!
And I wonder how they would cope with streets that look like this freeze-frame I snagged from a recent televised Iowa basketball game in Iowa City...

I must admit I'd rather see this on TV instead of out my window!

Nelson's Diner...Pompano Beach

Thanks to my GPS (I've named "her" Stella!) we found another spot for a good breakfast...And let's just say owner/chef "Nelson" appears to LOVE Elvis...and the Golden Oldies in general.

Menu Cover

That's Owner/Chef  Nelson...In the Apron..."Working the Crowd"...

We felt right at home after we discovered a Hawkeye pennant on the ceiling...along with about a hundred others...

 Our server, Candy, was everything you want a server to be. Turns out she works seven days a week.  She's a server, she's a manager...and she cooks!  So she gave us the scoop on everything that goes on at Nelson's...even BEFORE I told her I write a food and travel blog. (Thanks Girl!)

I asked for her suggestion for breakfast since we were "newbies"...and she assured me their biscuits and gravy would not disappoint me.  And she was right.

Does this "bite" of melon count as a DAILY SERVING of fruit????  Hmmm....

Hubby added blueberries to his morning cakes...

The menu reads like a book...

And the prices were fair...

And I laughed when I saw the BACK of the menu...

 I LOVE the names of menu items.  In fact, I asked for a menu after we had placed our order...just so I could read all the titles of the food choices...

Candy told me we were lucky to be seated as soon as we arrived.  And when we left the diner, we understood what she meant.  A line had formed...and everyone in line assured me they were happy to wait.  It was THAT good.

A cute little a strip mall...

FYI..."The Epicurean Explorer" Has LEFT the BUILDING...
(But I bet we'll go back...for an Encore!)