Saturday, May 30, 2020

Quarantine at Home Series: Chicken Cornbread Casserole

      By this time most folks just want a simple meal that includes ingredients available around the house or at the local store. By now most of us are way past fancy and eclectic dishes and crave the simple comfort food style meals we grew up with.
      The next dish in my series is a country classic, easy to make at home any time of year.  All of the ingredients are easy to obtain anywhere resulting in a delicious meal.  Enjoy.

4 cups crumbled cornbread (I use Jiffy cornbread mix, another reason to save leftover cornbread)
chopped celery, onions, bell pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups chopped chicken (I use chopped/trimmed chicken thighs as it doesn't dry out)
1 can cream o' chicken soup
1 1/2 cup chicken broth
1 cup grated cheese of choice

Boned and then chopped. Be sure to get most of the skin fat off.

Save that day (or two) old cornbread

Even though the recipe didn't call for it, I simmered my chicken in a skillet till no long pink.
Mix all the ingredients into a greased 9" x 13" baking dish and let it rest 30 minutes.

Nearly the rest of the ingredients, except the cheese.  It's pretty simple. 

Mixed and letting set up for 30 minutes before baking

Bake at 350F for 30-45 minutes.  Although it needs nothing, serve hot with a salad.  This meal defines comfort food, ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS. 

Enjoy anytime of year

"I like chicken a lot because chicken is is obedient.  It will do whatever you tell it to do." 
Maya Angelou

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Saturday, May 23, 2020

Quarantine at Home Series: Venison Poutine

     Well, summer is nearly upon us and the quarantine remains. Life may or may not change much this summer except the BBQs and bonfires will be limited to our family only.  We don't camp in the summer as we are on the road in the RV nearly 6 months each winter anyways.  We are determined to make the best of it.  This doesn't change our lifestyle much unless we go to the store.  Still too many folks NOT WEARING MASKS in our town.
      This is a uniquely Canadian favorite.  We tried it at a roadside stand along the ALCAN Highway 6 years ago on our first trip to Alaska.  Made to be roadside finger food, it is delicious.  Some call it the National Dish of Canada.  It has all the 'right stuff':  venison, French fries, cheese curds, and gravy.  It's a pretty easy meal to put together when you don't want leftovers and there is just the two of you.  Although this is prepared with venison you can use nearly any meat you wish.

1 pack of frozen French fries
cheese curds
1 pound of venison (or your choice of meat)
1 cup brown gravy
1/2 cup green onions, chopped

      Season your meat with choice of rub.  Slice into thin strips.  I like either Adolphs, Lawry's, Cavender's, or even a bit of nutmeg.  Sear in hot skillet over medium high heat for 2 minutes per side.  Remove to platter to rest.

Simmering seasoned venison

      Prepare your FF, I like to use my air fryer.  Time completion to be done with the gravy.  Make your gravy with either the bits and pieces and drippings left in the frying pan or a commercial mix in a small separate sauce pan; simmer.  When the FF are done, toss them with the cheese curds while hot so they begin to melt.

Mixing fresh hot fries and cheese curds

      Plate the FF and curds.  Arrange the sliced steak on top and cover everything with gravy.  Top with green onions and serve.  Cold beer works very well.

Plated and ready to YUM

"Poutine is actually Quebec slang for a mess"

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Friday, May 15, 2020

Quarantine at Home Series: Creamy Garlic Sea Scallops

      By now the mandated "Shelter in Place" quarantine is beginning to tire many of you to a serious level.  I don't have any easy answers to the lack of income, recreational restrictions,  and peace of mind.  Some of us question our leaders and the entire situation, but I do know that as a community we are capable of overcoming this due to what I read on social media.  Like it or not the alternative literally risks your family and our community as well.  I don't want to pass the summer away online with just recipes, but if the quarantine isn't lifted then there isn't much write about except my butt in the garden or mowing the Ponderosa.  Don't misunderstand me; the projects around here are getting done with the late spring weather permitting.
      We love seafood, but Barb isn't fond of the texture of scallops.  Actually just a big clam I love them, especially the Sea Scallops, much bigger.  Usually always sautéed, they do very well in a light white wine or butter sauce.  This is my favorite as long as they still get seared marks on them.  If you don't have access to sea scallops, then bay scallops will do or even shrimp.

2 TB olive oil (I like extra virgin)
1 pound sea scallops
2 TB unsalted butter, divided
4 large garlic cloves, minced
salt and fresh ground black pepper
1/ cup dry white wine or chicken broth
1 cup cream (or for lower fat used evap milk)
1 TB lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 pack of linguine or choice of noodles or pasta

     Thaw scallops if needed.  Thoroughly pat dry with towels. Heat olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium high heat.  Add scallops in a single layer without crowding the pan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and fry 2-3 minutes on one side.  This should produce a golden crust when flipped.  Flip and fry again for another 2 minutes.

Sautéed' sea scallops in olive oil

     Remove from skillet and transfer to plate.  Melt 2 TB of butter in the same pan, scraping up any browned bits left over from the scallops.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant.  Pour in wine and bring to a simmer for 2 minutes or until wine reduces by half.  Add cream and allow to simmer until slightly thickened.
Simmering cream sauce

     Remove skillet from heat; stir in lemon juice and add the scallops back into the pan to warm through slightly and garnish with parsley.

Warming scallops with sauce

     Serve with your choice of noodles or steamed vegetables. Linguine or rice works for me.

Bon apatite

"Most seafood should be simply threatened with heat and celebrated with joy"
Jeff Smith
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Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Quarantine at Home Series: Dorito Taco Salad

      This is the first in my series of 'what to eat when you're home quarantined'.  I'm very sure most folks have a vault full of delicious recipes, but I just want to throw a few more out to consider.  I know that many folks in our community post recipes and since we're all in this together will spur even more contribution.  We try to do salad night about once every week to 10 days.  It makes for quite the mix n match challenge.  All greens, lots of meat, seafood, antipasto, fruit,'s all good.  This one came across Facebook a month or two ago and I loved it so much I had to save it.  A good light summer meal, but delicious anytime


1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/4 cup salsa (your choice of heat)
2 tsp mayo
2 tsp  adobo sauce (from 4 oz. can with chipotle peppers)
1 pound ground beef or venison
2 TB taco seasoning
3/4 cup water
1 head iceberg lettuce, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped (you may use chopped green chilies as well)
1/2 cup black olives, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 can kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, drained
1 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded
2 cups Nacho Flavored Doritos, coarsely crushed

      In a small bowl whisk together the mayo, salsa, and adobo sauce for the dressing. Cover and refrigerate.

Whisked dressing

      In a large skillet brown beef and drain.  Add taco seasoning and water.  Simmer 5-7 minutes.

….and of course the simmering beef n taco seasoning

      Remove to cool.  Let it cool 10-15 minutes before adding to salad.  In a large serving bowl add the lettuce and top with pepper, tomato, black olives, corn, black beans, and cheese.  Add the beef mixture last.

The fixins' 

Right before serving add the crushed Doritos and dressing, toss to coat.  Serve.

Plated ...Bon Apetite

"Hillary Clinton is not going to be able to create Taco Salad, I will tell you right now"
Donald Trump
(Fact check in progress)

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Friday, April 24, 2020

Venturing Towards the Great Unknown...Home

White Pass, WA
      Each year it happens; we must decide when and from where to finally set our sails towards our home port in NW Michigan and get underway.  This is usually decided by weather reports, as well as road and mountain pass reports if necessary.  If we are coming from the south we usually stage somewhere around St. Louis and watch the forecast north.  If we are coming the from Far West, as we are this year, we need to watch forecasts and mountain passes.  We have 4 of them between Western Washington and Great Falls, MT alone.  We can stay over in between passes if needed depending on the coming forecast.  We don't carry chains or snow tires or studded tires so we are hamstrung by what the law allows.  We have to watch carefully and pick our spots.  In the end we can't get home unless the snow has melted enough to get up our driveway.  All of this takes place sometime around the middle to the end of April.  It is the beginning of springtime, but Mother Nature can be a funny bird.
      This year was especially tricky with the onslaught of Coronavirus and all the havoc it caused throughout the nation let alone the world.  We were moved around quite a bit prior to departure from the beach last month.  We also tried to stay in one place for 2 weeks in case we became symptomatic.  We ended up in our self imposed quarantine in East Olympia for 17 days; a success.  We did not know what lay ahead for us, how far and where we would be allowed to travel.  We planned to be as completely 'self contained' as possible.  We figured we'd have to be.  We finally made our break on April 11th.  We boondocked the first 3 days enroute to Great Falls, MT.  This would allow us to camp very cheaply, usually FREE, and still be 'socially distanced' without RV parks and other folks.  I guess you could say we were traveling 'under the radar' this climate, a valuable commodity.   Power via solar panels, propane, and the generator if needed.  We did not travel far each day; just far enough to make progress and still get off the grid when available.  We have stayed at all of these places before.

Walmart Yakima, WA  T+183 miles. Short I-5 south then US Hwy 12 east over White Pass.  Makes for a short first day to work out the travel kinks, gets us in early to chillax.  We usually like to boondock overnight at Roza CG up the Yakima River Canyon, but it was closed this trip due to the
virus.  Still a nice overnight for FREE.

Lookout Pass Idaho/Montana

Lincoln's 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, Haugan, MT.  Mileage T+430 miles.  All I-90 interstate travel.  FREE camping in the back with electricity and a central water station. Good food and a few slot machines inside, but due to the virus only the truck stop and RV park were open.  This is a big truck stop with diesel and all the needs. There were only 2 other rigs in camp.  They have done some power renovation since our last time through here.  They now have 8 new 10/30/50A GCFI boxes for hookups.  Depending on power requirements they can handle up to 24 units for overnight or a couple of days.  They no longer allow 'long term camping'.  We celebrated Easter here with a 2 day stay and some mountain air.

Lincoln's 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar RV Camping

New 10/30/50A boxes

Easter Dinner
Garlic Parmesan Rockfish w/Garlic Sour Cream Yukon Gold Taters & Corn

Dick's RV Park Great Falls, MT.  T+695 miles.  I-90 from Haugan to Missoula, then 2 lane MT Hwy 200 for the last 3 hours into Great Falls.  We usually stay on Malmstrom AFB at the Fam Camp, but due to the virus it is closed.  Our only big break in the trip, we stayed here several days to address any required maintenance and visit with a friend.  137 sites, full hookups and all the amenities. We left Haugan early as they were predicting another spring snow storm in Great Falls that evening.  Fortunately that did not materialize, except for some flurries.  $43/day.  NOTE:  We were self contained here with full hookups; due to Coronavirus their community bathrooms and laundry were closed.

Black Eagle Dam, Missouri River
Great Falls Skyline from the airport

Pilot Flying J Truck Stop Beach, ND  T+1083 miles.  This is all two lane driving across the prairie on MT Hwy 200.  A gas stop in Lewistown is almost essential.  Pilot Flying J is a nice big truck stop just across the MT/ND border on I 94 Exit 1 in the middle of nowhere.  They do have fuel discounts, FREE RV overnight parking spots, and free water/dump access. FREE boondock.  Interestingly enough travel across Montana usually involves seeing lots of wildlife, but in the past 10 years or so that has not been the case.  There was a devastating winter several years ago that decimated the Pronghorn Antelope population.  However, today between Great Falls and the North Dakota border we counted 532 antelope 185 mule deer, and 4 pheasant.  This is all just driving down the road,   making a 344 mile drive a bit more interesting.  Even the Yellowstone River was down and looked like there was plenty of beach and islands to peruse for agates.

Yellowstone River @ Glendive, MT

E-zry RV Park, Moorehead, MN  T+1435 miles.  All I-94 driving.  WHAT A SHOCK!  Located in the country several miles from town it is a homestead in disarray with junk, old, RVs, and cars everywhere.  There are some sites, but the owner doesn't know how many of them still work.  He is waiting on his hearing next week to see if he can get his license restored.  That should have been my alarm signal.  We parked next to his house and another RV with power, but shared water via Y connector with the other RV.  WHAT A SHITHOLE.  $30 per night is what he asks, but that became negotiable quickly.  DO NOT STOP HERE.

Walmart Ironwood, MI T+1780 miles.  All US highways and two lane roads with a bit of I-35 for awhile outside of Duluth, MN.  Strictly an overnight boondock.  FREE

Chocolay River RV Park  T+1935 miles.  Marquette, MI  A great group of folks that let us stay overnight even though not open yet.  They set us up in the winter caretakers lot.  They even reduced the rate:  $25 per night.  We stayed here an extra night for the peace and quiet.

Chocolay River RV Park Marquette, MI
      We don't eat out much when on the road, easy this trip with the health restrictions and all. So my cooking dictates the cuisine.  We dined on Fried Clam Strips n FF,  Garlic Parmesan Rockfish, Herb Crusted Horseradish Venison Chuck Steak, Ham Steaks, Lasagna, Tillamook Moondog Grilled Cheese, and Venison Carnitas to name a few.  We did make sure to order out one night in Great Falls for some Howard's Pizza, an old favorite.  We also began making a habit of keeping both our RV freezers full.  We've heard stories of meat shortages ahead and so when we make room we restock with whatever meat we need or want.

Fried Razor Clam Strips
Venison Carnitas

Herb Crusted Venison Chuck Steaks w/Horseradish Crème Sauce

Ham Steak

       Finally we arrived home.  We averaged 13.5 mpg towing nearly 2400 miles with the cheapest price for diesel at $1.98 in Fargo, ND.  It has been a long 2 years with another trip to Alaska and 2 long trips around the country as well.  We haven't been home more than 1 month in the past 24.  It will be good to spend the summer here.


"Wherever you go, go with all your heart"  

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Howard's Pizza Great Falls, MT

      Everyone has a favorite eatery, a place with memories abounding.  We always thought the food was THE BEST and wouldn't trade it for the world.  Due to my Air Force career I have several, but this is one my early favorites.  While stationed in Great Falls for 4 years in the early 70s I ate Howard's Pizza many, many times either by delivery, take out, or next door at the Stein Haus, the local watering hole.

Heaven on Earth, right next door to each other

     Howard's Pizza was first established in 1959 in Great Falls, MT.  They offer a signature, handmade crispy thin crust pizza made fresh daily from scratch.  Their famous sauce and ranch dressing are prepared fresh to ensure the best taste and flavor.  Howard's Pizza uses only whole milk mozzarella cheese for all pizzas along with the finest toppings.  Howard's Pizza now offers 4 locations throughout the Great Falls area.
      I introduced Barb to it several years ago and she has come to love the simplicity, taste, and quality of their pizza.  We had Howard's pizza delivered to our RV while in Great Falls this trip as well.  We always get the same thing...…LARGE Lean Ground Beef.
      Of course with age comes the differentiation of tastes, but not with this pizza.  Wonderful, tasty, lean ground beef with cheese on a thin crust square cut pizza that will create memories.

Always good topped with these......yeah, Barb already got to it before I did

      Make no mistake, this is not Artisan Pizza, not an eclectic or organic experience, just good food at a reasonable price.  Our large totaled $16 delivered.  Yet another delicious meal for the soul.  Hard to leave here with such memories, but easy to travel on a full, satisfied stomach.  Thank you, Great Falls.  You'll always have a special place in my heart.


"If more of us valued food and cheer and song among hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world"  
JRR Tolkien 

WiFi courtesty of Verizon MiFi


Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Tillamook Moondog Grilled Cheese

Tillamook Grilled Cheese Grill Food Truck    Portland, OR

      Another in the line of GREAT Tillamook grilled cheese sandwich recipes.  Simple, delicious and always goes well with a cup of soup, especially tomato.  Although the recipe calls for Sourdough bread it goes equally well with Ciabatta.  This recipe makes one sandwich so multiply it accordingly.  

3 slices Provolone cheese
2 slices hard salami
2 slices Pepperoni
Green Olive Tapenade or sliced green olives
sliced sweet peppers
2 slices Sourdough bread
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

First layer 
      Make the slices of bread a bit on the thick side.  Layer 1 slice of cheese, 1 slice hard salami, 1 slice pepperoni, layer olive tapenade, and sweet peppers, then 1 more slice cheese...…..repeat.  Last layer should end with top being cheese.
Two layer Moondog Assembled

       Place small skillet on med high heat and add oil.  Spray the outside of the sandwich both sides with some PAM if you wish.  Place sandwich in skillet and press down lightly with spatula.  Check for doneness and turn over when golden brown.  When the second side is done remove sandwich and place on plate.  Let cool for a minute or two then slice diagonally to serve.  Goes very well with a cup of tomato soup.  NOTE:  I would try to find sliced sourdough bread next time; the rolls were a bit cumbersome in the skillet.  We really did not care for the Green Olive Tapenade and would probably use sliced green olives next time.

Finis ala plate
"We hunger for significance, for signs that our personal existence is of special meaning to the universe.  To that end we are all too eager to deceive ourselves and others, to discern a sacred image in a grilled cheese sandwich or find divine warning in a comet" 
Neil deGrasse Tyson

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