Let’s Get Grillin’ — Inside; with Steak and Hot Pepper Kebabs

I love to grill, smoke foods and barbeque — but getting the backyard grill going is alot of effort for just two people. And this Louisiana summer seems to be full of mosquitoes; humidity, heat and unpredictable afternoon thunderstorms. I purchased a little Chefman Grill plus Panini Press appliance last year thinking that this kitchen gadget mighty be the ultimate solution for grilling. Unfortunately, it became “just another kitchen appliance.” But when a neighborhood grocery store ran a Fourth of July special price on ribeye steaks — I couldn’t resist. I purchased several steaks and made delicious “Steak and Hot Pepper Kebobs” including the last of the peppers from my summer garden.

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Lovin’ Tomatoes: Creole Tomato Gazpacho

I love vine-ripe summer tomatoes and chilled gazpacho is a good way to use some of these tomatoes. This soup recipe brings out the best flavor of the tomatoes and also the other vegetables in the soup — cucumbers, jalapeno, red peppers, garlic and red onions. Serve with a panini sandwich on a hot summer day for a satisfying lunch. I think that the best gazpacho is one which is bursting in fresh vegetable flavors, but not with any lingering “raw” ingredient taste. This recipe, from Louisiana Cookin’ magazine, manages to accomplish that idea.

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Blueberry Buckle

Fresh blueberries are great any time of the year; I especially enjoy picking blueberries from by own backyard bushes. In my opinion, these backyard blueberries have more aromatic flavor than the blueberries purchased from a grocery store. So if you have a chance to “pick your own blueberries,” go for it. Today I am making a “Blueberry Buckle” which is a simple coffee cake filled with lots of fresh blueberries and topped with a crunchy streusel topping. I added in a few walnut pieces. They give a flavor and help accent the nice “pop” from the blueberries. This cake is delicious!

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Moose Tracks-Inspired Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Swirl

I discovered a different brand of ice cream recently while visiting in Houston — Moose Tracks Ice Cream. With such a unique and novel name, it catches your attention. Of course, I had to try a scoop of Denali’s® “Extreme Maximum Fudge Moose Tracks” Ice Cream. The ice cream was pretty good. Being curious, I wanted to learn why I’ve been missing this brand of ice cream all these years. And I am making my own Moose Tracks-inspired version of their original flavor, “Vanilla Ice Cream with Fudge Swirl and Peanut Butter Cups.”

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Blueberry Lemonade plus a “Moscow Mule” Cocktail Variation

I can’t think of anything more refreshing than a glass of home-mixed lemonade on a hot summer day. And we have plenty of hot summer days here in Louisiana. I decided to add blueberries from my backyard to make a “Blueberry Lemonade” aromatic variation. Then why not kick things up a notch and make a “Blueberry – Lemon Moscow Mule?” That cocktail hit the spot, too. I added frozen blueberries and fresh mint for garnish to my icy summertime drinks.

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Blueberry Cornbread

It is a pleasant problem to have too many blueberries. My backyard blueberry bushes are producing about 2 cups of ripe blueberries a day. In addition to sharing with neighbors, I’m scrambling to find ways to use all the blueberries. I love homemade cornbread and recently ran across a recipe for “Blueberry Cornbread.” I guess this shows that you can add just about anything to cornbread. I love “Jalapeno Cornbread Muffins” with pickled jalapeno bits and my “Hushpuppies” with green onions and Cajun spices. Why not make a sweet cornbread recipe with fresh blueberries? Yum!

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Let’s Make a Small Batch of Hot & Spicy Pickle Chips

I am making pickles again this summer. And these pickles are some of the best ones that I have ever made. They are inspired the spicy pickle chips which my 97-year-old mother-in-law keeps in her home refrigerator. She purchases large jars of spicy pickles at Costco Wholesale and then portions some of them into small plastic containers. She can reach in to her refrigerator from time to time and eat just a pickle. I reached in and ate an entire handful of the pickles. These pickles are addictive. And they are hot! Wow! Since the label of commercial pickles doesn’t specify the exact spice content, I decided go on an adventure and concoct my own spicy pickle recipe. Luckily, I aced my pickles on the first try. although I did make several additional batches just to make sure that I wrote down the ingredients and instructions properly.

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Southern Cookin’: Hummingbird Cake

Today I am baking a “Hummingbird Cake,” a cake with a Southern tradition. It is early in June and this time of year reminds me of our annual trips driving our kids to summer camp in Mississippi. The camp is located in the heart of the Mississippi Delta and you can’t get more southern than this. It was always a bit sad driving down the two-lane country roads with red dirt, smell of pine trees, and hot, hot humidity as our kids would be gone for most of the summer. But they loved camp and made many enduring friends there. So a “Hummingbird Cake” reminds me of this annual ritual.

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Instant Pot Magic: BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs

I’m having a great time trying out recipes in my new “Instant Pot.” Here’s a recipe that adapts very well to “Instant Pot” cooking: “BBQ Baby Back Pork Ribs.” There is nothing better than a rack of juicy, tender and flavorful pork ribs. We save cooking pork ribs for special occasions as the process of smoking or roasting the ribs is somewhat time-consuming and involved. However, when cooked in an Instant Pot and then broiled for a few minutes in the oven to finish them off, the process is simple and easy. These are absolutely tender and flavorful.

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Let’s Cook Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam a.k.a. Knock-Out Tomato Chutney

I love ripe, juicy tomatoes and eagerly look forward to the early summer months when tomatoes ripen in Louisiana. Today I am making a new recipe — at least for me — with some of these ripe tomatoes. It is “Hot & Spicy Tomato Jam.” What? I had never heard of “Tomato Jam” until this year and apparently no one else has either. I took a chance and concocted my own recipe from several sources. The jam turned out to be delicious. I am so pleased. We ate the entire batch in two days. Just a warning — my recipe has a hot kick; hence the subtitle, “Knock-Out Tomato Chutney.”

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