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An Anniversary To Remember...44 Years!

What a WONDERFUL Anniversary...

Cabernet...Awesome...
Fantastic Parmigiano Reggiano and Olives...
Details on the menu, service and the entire restaurant experience at Santa Lucia in my next blog post...but in the meantime...thanks to ALL of you for your good wishes!

French Toast...

The cooking countdown continues.  We'll be eating "farewell breakfasts" at some of our favorite diners from now on...so I'm calculating only four more breakfasts to be eaten here at home before our trek North begins.

This morning I opened the refrigerator and saw too many eggs...and a loaf of bread still in the freezer.

Hmm...Sounds like a French Toast morning!



My FRENCH TOAST "Recipe"

5 eggs, beaten
A "splash" of Half & Half
A "dribble" of pure vanilla extract
A "pinch" of salt
A "Spoon-Full" of sugar
A "Sprinkle" of cinnamon
A "Dusting" of powdered sugar

Mix well and dip bread slices until fully coated.  Spray a non stick pan with cooking spray.  Fry until golden, and dust with powdered sugar.  Drizzle on the maple syrup...and ENJOY!

Mission Accomplished!



Winding Down...

This is the time of year when I have to get VERY creative on my menu planning.

As we begin to think about closing down our Winter life and heading back North for our Summer life...my meals can seem rather disjointed;

So tonight it was a deep dish homemade chicken pot pie.


Ready for the oven!

I used up
a refrigerated pie crust
a frozen chicken breast
a box of chicken stock
several potatoes
an onion
a box of mushrooms
a bag of frozen peas
several cloves of garlic




It was a good meal, and I love the fun of figuring out how to empty our freezer!

LONDON BROIL...From FLOP...To FAB!

I don't care HOW long you marinate a piece of  London Broil.  And I don't care how thin you slice it...or how rare you serve it...

IT CAN BE AS TOUGH AS SHOE LEATHER.


In fact...last night after slicing the meat...and tasting it...and trying to CHEW it...we made a meal of salad and oven roasted potatoes!  And I ALMOST threw the entire chunk of meat away.  But you know me...waste not, want not.

So I stuck it in the refrigerator and thought about how to resurrect it.  

And boy...did I!!!

This morning I threw the meat into my slow cooker.  I added several cups of beef broth, half an onion, and two garlic cloves.  I cooked it on HIGH for three hours.

And when I uncovered it, the meat simply fell apart!

Then I added some sliced yellow and red peppers and another sliced onion, and I cooked for another hour.

And the result??



An absolutely delicious Philly Cheese Steak mixture...



Hmm...I'm certainly glad I did NOT pitch that meat last night.

Like I said...Waste not...want not!

It's Not Easy Being GREEN...

Let's just say this was NOT the time to sit down on our bench while grilling...








I just hope he moves before Fred heads out to grill our steaks!

Location, Location...LOCATION!

We live in a FANTASTIC location in Fort Lauderdale.

From our condo, it's only an eight minute walk to the beach...




And we are within two blocks of an AMAZING array of restaurants of all types, including Greek, Italian, Cuban, Japanese, Chinese, American, Peruvian, and Spanish...just to name a few.  We can walk to bars, theaters, live music venues and art galleries.  We have a community center nearby offering exercise classes ranging from yoga and pilates to card games like bridge.  We can even walk to Coral Ridge Mall.  (Yes...It's Coral Ridge Mall in Fort Lauderdale...AND back home in Iowa!)

We have the Rio Naomi Jarmon Canal right outside our front door...(All the canals have names.)

The canal outside our condo...
And the Intracoastal waterway is only a few steps from our BACK door...

The Intracoastal Waterway...From the dock at FlipFlops
And the only drawback in our "walker's paradise" is the dreaded Oakland Park Blvd. Bridge.


This bridge raises and lowers every thirty minutes to allow sailboats and large yachts to pass through...


Walking across that bridge spanning the Intracoastal Waterway is a white knuckle experience, with four lanes of traffic whizzing by at speeds that usually exceed the posted number...with only an eight inch concrete "barrier" between the drawbridge sidewalk and the speeding cars.  It's not a place to stop and admire the beautiful view...at least not for long!  (But the view IS beautiful...)

The view from the Oakland Park Blvd. Bridge...with boats docked at Bokampers
But since many of our favorite "haunts" require crossing that bridge...we have become very creative in finding a way to be on and off of it as quickly as possible.

In order to cut off two thirds of the time to be exposed to the dangers from traffic...we CLIMB UP AND DOWN the cement wall at BOTH ENDS of the bridge span!

 That may not seem like such a big deal when you look at the cement from THIS angle...



Now...check it out from THIS perspective...


I think you'll get the idea now...


The reason I decided to post this on my blog?

Yesterday...as Fred and I held hands and gingerly climbed/crawled backwards down the wall...a firetruck was passing by below us on the street.  The fireman slowed the truck to a crawl as he watched our descent.  And when we reached the bottom and turned around, the fireman's face lit up with a huge grin...and he flashed us a TWO THUMBS UP before he drove away.

Not bad for a couple of old farts...


And the ice cold beer at Bokampers tasted pretty darn good after THAT!

Too Many Choices!

Happy Hour tonight at the Chart House...


Kimchee Calamari
Fried Artichokes with a Lemon Basil Aioli
Truffle Fries

Ahhhh...Deliciousness on a plate!
(With a view)




Steamed Veggies...A Rainbow!

Recently I was in a hurry to get dinner.

I had a leftover chicken breast with mushrooms in the refrigerator, and I had a packet of grains to heat in the microwave.

Now...for the veggies...


I was NOT up for making a salad...so I cut a stalk of broccoli in half and I placed it in about an inch of salted water in a saucepan.  I added 1/2 of a red onion, sliced, and some red, orange  and yellow mini peppers, sliced.  I boiled the veggies for several minutes and I drained the water and dried the veggies in the pan on the stove.  Then I added 1 tablespoon of butter and tossed to coat.

The veggies were the star of the show for me.  So eating a rainbow for dinner was accomplished again.

Gardening 101

Today I helped my friend Tracey plant a container garden of fresh herbs to grow on her screened in balcony.


It was a fun way to spend time together...and I know she will enjoy learning to cook with all of the wonderful herbs she planted.


And her balcony will be a happy place to hang out when we get finished with our redecorating project tomorrow...


Pretty plants and good friends...
A winning combination!

Happy Hour...YES!

A Flatbread with sausage, peppers, onions and ricotta cheese...at the outside bar at Shooters in Fort Lauderdale...

Looking at the Intracoastal Waterway...A beautiful night...


A delicious end to a great evening...

Improve Your Leftovers...

I was looking for a way to improve leftovers...and I found a way.  It's quite simple, actually.
Here are my instructions:

Step One...Heat up leftovers in the microwave.  (This is my homemade Ragu Bolognese)


Step Two...Take the leftovers outside to the deck.

Step Three...Put up the umbrella on the picnic table.


Step Four...Sit down at the picnic table by the water...on a beautiful, sunny 82 degree day...and START EATING.

(MY leftovers never tasted better!)

Coconuts Anyone?

I've talked our neighbors next door into leaving these coconuts on their tree until we head North.  My research tells me it takes ONE YEAR for a coconut to mature, and these large green ones should still be at the coconut milk stage.  You can also scoop out the soft pulp at this stage to eat it before it becomes hard like the coconut we buy in packages at the store.


After the AWFUL experience our grand kids had when they tasted the YUCKY inside of an apparently rotten coconut here in January...so I'm not sure I can convince them to try again.






But you know me...I'll try ANYTHING once.  

So Meemaw will go FIRST this time!

An Easter...BBQ? Texas Hold 'em Style

This year we chose to skip the usual ham dinner for Easter and instead we headed to a cute little place...for BBQ!

TEXAS HOLD'EM BBQ is located on the water just a few blocks away from our condo.  I've always wanted to give it a try...so we skipped our usual Sunday night Chinese restaurant and we opted for some smoked meat instead.

And that meat was really, really GOOD.



We strolled in about 5 p.m. on Easter Sunday...and we were the only people in the place!  That is usually a bad sign...but we soon found out they were closing at 6 p.m. because of the holiday.  And our friendly server apologized in advance because they were out of many of their items since they had been very busy earlier in the day.

We decided on the Rib Tips Dinner with Baked Beans and Potato Salad.

Our server returned to apologize again, telling us they only had enough Rib Tips for ONE dinner...so we split that dinner and I got an extra side of Baked Beans.


We found out ALL of their sides are homemade...and the meat was absolutely delicious.  So good, in fact, that I refused to mess it up with the yummy BBQ sauce that came with the meal.  And the beans and the potato salad were really good.  REALLY good!  

As we left the cute little restaurant, we walked out back to check out their seating by the water. (We look forward to sitting out there next time.)  


There is a Paddle Board and Kayak rental place next door, so the water was dotted with people enjoying the beautiful Easter day weather...


And some "people" had FOUR LEGS!


Smoke was still swirling out of the large smoker outside the back door of the restaurant...


And as we were about to leave, the back door of the restaurant opened...and Charles (The Pit Master) came out to remove the last ribs from the smoker...and I was lucky enough to get a glimpse of the "magic"...


And those ribs looked and smelled FANTASTIC!


So TEXAS HOLD'EM BBQ is a rustic little place with a beautiful view, delicious food, and a friendly staff.

It was a really good choice for our change of pace Easter dinner.

CHICKEN PARMESAN

Recently I made a BIG batch of Chicken Parmesan. And I used what I had on hand...

I pounded the chicken breasts to about 1/2 inch thick, and I created a breading station with three dishes.  Egg with a little water, flour with salt and pepper, and Italian bread crumbs.

I dredged the chicken in flour, then dipped in egg, and finished with bread crumbs.  Then I fried for about four minutes per side and removed from the heat.


Meanwhile, I  put one diced onion, three minced garlic cloves and one bay leaf in a saucepan with some Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I stirred and cooked for about three minutes.  Then I added a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water to the pan.  I added a heaping tsp of sugar and a handful of fresh basil, torn into pieces.  I cooked this mixture on simmer for about ten minutes until the sauce thickened.


Then I poured the sauce over the chicken, and I topped the chicken with a handful of mozzarella cheese and a sprinkle of Parmesan.

I threw the skillet in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes...And I cooked some spaghetti while the chicken cooked in the oven.




The results???


So good I will even eat the LEFT-OVERS!

A "Potluck" in Paradise

Our Fort Lauderdale condo neighbors are not just neighbors...they're also our friends.  And recently we all got together to celebrate a great Winter season...and a special send-off as some folks begin their trek North for the Summer.

It was a BEAUTIFUL evening...but most of these thin-skinned people showed up dressed for WINTER!  Sweatshirts, jackets, jeans...you name it.


And what WAS the frigid temperature, you ask?


It was SEVENTY DEGREES!  (That's 70!)


Full Disclosure...I did wear my white fuzzy BEDROOM SLIPPERS to the party since my feet WERE cold!

And speaking of cold...
You should have seen everyone when we had our "cold snap" earlier this Winter...when the temp dropped to the 50's!  (Let's just say long underwear shirts were spotted...)

The food was awesome at our party since there are some very good cooks here.  (Sorry...I forgot to take a picture of the OVERFLOWING food table!)

Some of the offerings?

A Cheese Board with an AWESOME pickled Italian meat salad
Shrimp with Homemade Dipping Sauce
Deviled Eggs
Jello Layered Strawberry Salad
Warm Pasta with delicious Kale Pesto sauce
My Herb Roasted Potatoes
My Mushrooms with a Red Wine Reduction
A beautiful cheesecake topped with raspberry sauce
My Applesauce Raisin Oatmeal Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

And...the star of the show for a Midwestern Gal...
BEEF!  Flank Steak to be specific...


Cooked to perfection by our neighbor, Evan...


Beef...Its what's for dinner...


Evan created a delicious marinade with a list of ingredients too long to remember...But I DO remember hearing TEQUILA...  (OLE!!!)


It was a wonderful meal...
We shared great food...and LOTS of laughs.

And then Mother Nature gave us one more surprise...





A perfect ending...