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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Photo Hunt ~furry

The photo hunt for this week is 'furry'.
I was looking for something a little different. No pets, pillows, or rodents!
This was parked right outside of Harrods... there has to be a story here somewhere.
We'll never know.
Y'all enjoy!


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rise and shine!

Even a bad day at the beach... is a very good day.
How could it be anything but a blessed day when it starts like this?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Check out the condo...

We have always talked about buying a condo at the beach. I grew up in my family's place in Perdido, so my sister and I have such precious memories of spending long days at the beach. That place is long gone, but we still go back to the same area year after year.
We have never bought a condo... mostly because our lottery numbers haven't come in. (this may be changing this week~ I'll let y'all know!) We also like staying in a different place, it is always fun to see how these beautiful rentals are decorated.

Here are some photo's of the bright beachy place we staying in this time.

My favorite is that they have WiFi!! Have computer will travel.

The artwork was fantastic!

How cute is this?

You can check out the link I posted yesterday.
Now, I'm off to the beach. Then dinner at the Oyster Bar!
See y'all soon,

Monday, January 26, 2009

Road Trip

All Bill had to do was mention that we had a chance to take a road trip... My bags are always packed! Lula is ready to fly.

We called to our friend Charlene at Luxury Costal Vacations. She had a condo that would have otherwise been empty, and we jumped on it. We'd like to think we are doing our part to help the economy!

Perdido Beach is only a few hours away and is the most beautiful beach, nestled between Pensacola and Mobile. In fact Southern Living recently listed several gulf coast beaches as the best beach destinations.

Y'all come along!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Slow Soupers Sandi Style!

It is my turn to pick the soup for our Sunday Slow Soupers group. We are a group of cooks from Slow Travel, who have been making a different soup every week. It has been fun to try favorite soups from all across the country. Now we get a taste of the south.

After some coaxing I agreed to post my recipe for Gumbo. I have posted Gumbo before on my blog, also a special post on making a roux. This is a basic recipe for a seafood gumbo, you are welcome to add or takeaway as you like.
When it comes to gumbo, there is always a discussion about okra and tomatoes. It has even inspired the Great Gumbo Cookoff in our family. I am not a okra/tomato gumbo girl... this is strictly a roux based seafood soup. Fabulous!

Seafood Gumbo
1/4 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup all purpose flour
1# chicken pieces
1# large shrimp, bay scallops, oysters
1# Andouille sausage
32 oz chicken broth
2 bell peppers, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp salt & pepper
½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less)
chopped parsley
bunch of green onions chopped

In a large pot, saute onions and peppers. Add sausage and brown. Add water, spices, and chicken; simmer until the chicken is cooked through (if you use chicken on the bone you can cool it and pull it now) Use this broth as a part of your chicken broth.

Start the gumbo by making your roux. Use a heavy skillet and stir together flour and oil until it is a cocoa brown and thick, smooth consistency. You will want to start adding some broth to the skillet to thin your roux, then pour the it into the big pot. Stir like hell. Add chicken broth, stir some more until there are no clumps.Cover and simmer. This will help to thicken the gumbo. Add cleaned shrimp and scallops, cooking on medium heat till shrimp are pink (10 minutes) Add the delicate oysters last. Remove from heat. Let stand for 10 minutes. Serve in a large bowl on top of a scoop of rice, with a garnish of green onions.

Y'all enjoy!


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ chipped

The photo hunt theme for this week is 'chipped'.
I am showing off a little bowl of WhistleStop Chili that has been chipped.
Y'all enjoy!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cooking light

We've been trying to eat light and I promised to pass on some recipes. Cooking light is not always easy to do without skimping on flavor. Cabbage is one of those good for you foods that is also good to eat.

This is a great side dish that is huge on flavor but slim on calories. The balsamic reduction sauce adds an extra punch. It is not your basic boiled, stink-up-the-house cabbage. This goes great with pork or chicken, Bill was glad to see something besides soup!

Roasted Cabbage
1 head red cabbage
1 head green cabbage
1 onion
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
2 Tbs olive oil
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar

Cut the small cabbage heads into 1 inch chunks, slice the onions into wedges. Toss with olive oil and minced garlic. Spread into a 9x13 baking dish. Add salt and pepper. Bake at 400° for 30 minutes until roasted, stir gently halfway through.

To make the balsamic reduction~ combine vinegar and brown sugar in a small pan. Cook at a rolling boil until reduced to a syrup. Top the roasted cabbage with balsamic reduction sauce. In this photo I had the minced garlic in the reduction sauce... but didn't like it that way~ so I changed the recipe. My prerogative!
Y'all enjoy!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


This single word best describes the momentous day. I, like so many of you, couldn't help but be glued to to TV. This is the way we change administrations in America.
Peacefully, ceremonially, with a fortune in pomp and circumstance.
Now we can move on.

"Be the change you want to see in the world" Ghandi

God Bless America!

Monday, January 19, 2009

One World One Heart

It is time again for the One World One Heart Event. I have participated before and had so much fun. In 2008 I gave away two Whistlestop Aprons.

One World One Heart is a global bloggy event and there will be hundreds of people joining in, each with something unique to share. It is a great way to visit new blogs and meet people who might not otherwise find their way into your circle of friends. Click on the link and you can join in as well.

This year I have been trying to decide what to offer. I am not an artist, a designer, or a professional anything. I do have connections to the WhistleStop warehouse. So for this giveaway I am going to offer a box of Whistlestop goodies to the lucky winner~ a cookbook, some marinade and batter mixes.
All you have to do is leave a little love and a comment. From those comments we will be choosing a winner. The global drawing will be Feburary 12th.

Visit Lisa to see all of the other blogs who are participating. I'm going to visit each and every one! Who knows, maybe I'll win a prize that I can pick up in Italy.
Thanks y'all!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

PalmaBella's Soup

The Slow Soupers soup of the week is from my friend Palma. We were all excited to see what Palma picked, she is a fabulous Italian cook. She didn't disappoint us... a warm soup of leeks and asparagus topped with crumbled amaretti cookies.

For those who may not recognize 'amaretti', these are cookies with the nutty flavor of amaretto in each bite. The best in the world are from Italy in the fine paper wrappers. I was lucky enough to find a suitable substitute for the real thing.
Leek and Asparagus Soup with Fried Leeks and Crushed Amaretti

This is a Roman dish, traditionally served at Easter time. The recipe is from A Cook’s Tour of Italy by Joe Famularo.

3-4 leeks, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
4 T. butter
2 c. peeled, diced potatoes
1 bunch asparagus, tender parts only, cut into 1 “ pieces
1 ½ quarts chicken broth (6 cups)
seasalt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup half & half
butter or olive oil for frying leeks for garnish
4 Amaretti cookies, crumbled, or grated

*optional: 2-3 oz. chopped, cooked pancetta. This is not part of the original recipe, but it DOES make Brad think this soup can be dinner!

Cut leeks in half and wash well, separating the leaves with your fingers while running them under cool water to remove any sand. Drain the leeks and cut them crosswise into thin slices. Reserve about ¼ c. of leeks for frying.

In a large saucepan, melt butter and sauté leeks lightly. Add potato cubes and sauté about 4 minutes. Add asparagus, broth and some salt and pepper. If using pancetta, add it now. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for 30-40 minutes. Put mixture through a food mill, sieve, or use a blender or emersion blender. Return to saucepan and add half & half. Simmer until mixture is warmed.

To serve, heat some oil or butter in a small saucepan, and fry leeks until crisp. Ladle the soup into warm bowls, sprinkle with crumbled amaretti in the center, and top with some crisp leeks.

* Don't skip the toppings! They are wonderful with the soup!

This soup was really yummy. The leeks and potatoes helped tone down the bite of the asparagus. You can see I didn't peel my potatoes, so the color of my soup was not as bright green as some of the others. Amaretti crumbled on anything is amazing.

Y'all enjoy!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ Hat

The photo hunt theme this week is 'hat'.
I may be in trouble over this one :-)
I don't know why I can't get this Mr Linky to work sometimes ~:-(
Y'all enjoy!


Friday, January 16, 2009

Slimware in Leopard print

I bet you thought I was going to post photos of a recent trip to Victoria Secret...
Not that kind of leopard print.
What a great name!
Slimware is specially designed dishware for the portion confused.
These are melamine plates with portion sized designs.
So~ IF you do think that mac and cheese is a veggie... you will know what a veggie portion looks like.
Maybe this kind of slimware would get me into one of those leopard prints...
Chow y'all!

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Y'all are going to be oh-so jealous when you see what I got for Christmas.
My niece, who is taking culinary classes at Johnson and Wales University has the very same thing (but I'd be willing to bet she isn't wearing them)

Tres Chic!

Onion goggles!

They are to keep you from crying while chopping onions... and they really work.

Fashion in the kitchen.
Have I mentioned our aprons recently?

Happy Chopping Y'all,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Indoor Grillin

Steak in a skillet~ that sounded perfect with our potatoes. We are having an 'Arctic Blast' here in Alabama. It is way to cold to go out and light the grill!
These aren't your usual pan fried steaks, but a great way to cook thick juicy steaks.

I went to the local market and got 3 thick filet mignon. I asked for marbled steaks at least 2 inches thick... beautiful!
I marinated them for 30 minutes in our WhistleStop Marinade. Then I coated them well with fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.

In a hot iron skillet I seared the steaks for 3 minutes on each side. Top each steak with a little pat of butter.

The skillet and all went into a hot oven and cooked then 8-10 minutes until the internal temp was 135° for medium rare. (I love my digital thermometer!)

If you aren't watching calories...Top with this sauce.

Gorgonzola Sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 oz gorgonzola

Salt & Pepper
Heat cream to a slow simmer and cook till thickened. Add gorgonzola and season with salt and pepper. Top each steak with a spoonful of cream.

After all that... no great pictures to share. Can you believe it?
Y'all enjoy!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Gorgonzola potatoes

This is one of my favorite ways to make potatoes. It is a side dish that can go with almost anything. Our son was home from college for a quick visit and we had it just the other night with gorgeous steaks cooked in a skillet.

Gorgonzola Potatoes
3-4 large potatoes, chunked
salt and black pepper
ground nutmeg
1 small onion, thinly sliced
1 cup half and half
3/4 cup gorgonzola crumbled (3oz)
2 tablespoons parmesean cheese
Preheat the oven 400°
In 8 or 9 inch square baking dish arrange half the potatoes; season with salt and pepper and then sprinkle with nutmeg. Top with onion and continue laying the rest of the potatoes on top. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add cream and half the cheese and cover with foil.
Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Top with cheese and bake uncovered 10 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned.

I have joined in the 'Scale Back Alabama' at work, so this might have been the last yummy potatoes I have for a while. At least they were worth the calories!

Time to get serious about promise #9 ~Eat less-Move more.

How are y'all doing with your goals?

Monday, January 12, 2009

A quickie and the bachelor

Tonight I didn't have time to spend in the kitchen... ok, maybe I had time, but I just didn't want to cook!
I came up with a brilliant idea~
Frozen ravioli + leftover soup= a quickie!

I had some leftover Porcini & Chestnut Soup in the freezer and a bag of ravioli. I tossed a quick salad and it was the perfect meal. Bill wants pizza for the ballgame. Can do! With a glass of wine in front of the tele I settled in for this week's Bachelor.
So~What's up with DeAnna coming back? She has the nerve!
I told her then, that life with a professional snow boarder would get old (and cold). That's what she gets for not listening to a mom. We have to find a mommy for Ty.

Now I might need just a pinch of chocolate...

Y'all enjoy!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

a Verde yummy soup

This week it was Deborah's turn to pick a soup for our Sunday Slow Soupers. Her blog is old shoes-new trip~ don't you just love that title? She is a slow traveler who would just as soon wear old shoes and plan a new trip; sounds like a plan to me! She found this recipe while planning a trip to Portugal and Spain. Caldo Verde is a traditional soup made in many different ways... here is her recipe from 'The Food of Portugal' by Jean Anderson.

Caldo Verde
1 large yellow onion, peeled and minced fine
1 large garlic clove, peeled and minced
4 Tbs olive oil
6 large potatoes, peeled and sliced thin
2 quarts cold water
6 ounces chouriço, chorizo, pepperoni, or other dry garlicky sausage, sliced thin
2½ tsp salt (about)
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 pound collards, kale, or turnip greens, washed, trimmed of course stems and veins, then sliced filament-thin. (The easiest way is to stack 6 to 8 leaves, roll crosswise into a firm, tight roll, then slice with a very sharp knife.)

Sauté the onion and garlic in 3 tablespoons of the oil in a large heavy saucepan 2 to 3 minutes over moderate heat until they begin to color and turn glassy; do not brown or they will turn bitter. Add the potatoes and sauté, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes, until they begin to color also. Add the water, cover, and boil gently over moderate heat 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are mushy. Meanwhile, fry the sausage in a medium-size heavy skillet over low heat 10 to 12 minutes until most of the fat has cooked out, drain well and reserve.

When the potatoes are soft, remove the pan from the stove and with a potato masher, mash the potatoes right in the pan in the soup mixture. Add the sausage, collards and simmer uncovered 5 minutes until tender. Mix in the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, and taste the soup for salt and pepper. Ladle into large soup plates and serve as a main course accompanied by chunks of Broa.
Broa is a heavy cornbread from Northern Portugal... I just used a heavy cornbread from Alabama. It's not such a big world after all!

This is a great hearty soup. I was not happy with the pepperoni that I used, and should have made it thicker with more kale. Other than that it was perfect for a cold rainy day.
Y'all Enjoy!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Photo Hunt ~ Aftermath

The theme for this week is 'aftermath'
This is the aftermath of an Auburn Win!The tradition is to roll Toomer's Corner with toilet paper.
I know~ that makes no sense at all.
But it is the perfect aftermath.

Y'all enjoy!


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

My Projects...

Have you seen? Rhoda at Southern Hospitality is hosting a party to show off our 'Best Projects of 2008'. It will be fun to see what everyone sends in.
I'm happy to share my best project of 2008. It is not a project that required alot of skill, like my baby sweater. It didn't involve paints like my art work at Margarita Grill, or water colors in Montisi. It is not a revamped piece of furniture like the ottoman I posted about. I'm not bragging on my homemade ice creams or my Dolce Italiano treats.

My favorite project is the family photo wall I created. I took favorite photos of our families and printed them out in sepia colors. I then found a colleciton of frames from the Old Time Pottery. I framed these photographs and hung them on our stairwell, like I had seen in the Pottery Barn catalog.

Even though these pictures are a colleciton over the years, the similar coloring and frames helps to tie them together.
I love having them in a place where I can see them everyday.
Go over to Rhoda's to see what everyone else is showing off.
Y'all won't believe some of them!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

A year in pictures

AprilMay June
August SeptemberOctober
December Happy New Year y'all!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Souper Fish

I'm a little late posting my soup for the week, but here it is...

I was looking forward to making the soup that Cindy Ruth picked this week. Her blog is Baked Alaska and she does a great job! Living in Alaska, Cindy has plenty of fresh fish around... and I would assume that hot soup is on the stove a lot. It would be at my house if the temperatures are cold enough to freeze pipes for months at a time!

I have never been a fish soup lover, but I was ready to give it a try.~ This is a tasty simple recipe, that is healthy and hearty. The base is onions, fennel, and tomatoes, you can't go wrong with that.
Just add fish. Cindy's Fish Soup
1 Tbs olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small head fennel, tops discarded, and bulb chopped
¼ cup wine (can be white or red, whatever you have open, or you can skip this altogether)
2 teaspoons fish seasoning (I use Dean & Deluca brand. If you can’t find, you could substitute Herbs de Provence)
1 15.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 5.5 oz can spicy V-8 juice
1 pound firm white fish such as halibut, cod, or rockfish, cut into 1” cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Add the onion, fennel, and garlic, and sauté until soft, about 10-15 minutes. Add the wine, and continue cooking for a couple of minutes. Add the V-8, tomatoes, and fish seasoning. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and add the chopped fish. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until the fish is cooked through and the flavors have blended, about 15 minutes.
Cindy's variations: If you would like a spicier soup, you can add a chopped jalapeno to the onions when sautéing, or add some red pepper flakes. I’ve also made this with the addition of potatoes, or with chopped zucchini or yellow squash if I want more veggies in add. I also sometimes season with Sherry Rum Peppers Sauce or a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
Maybe it was the frozen cod fish I used, but it was pretty fishy. I'd make it again in a heartbeat...but next time it is chicken/fishless soup for us!

Y'all enjoy!
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