Abby Dodge’s Bake Together Peasant Boule and My Italian Inspired Pull Apart Bread Variation

When I first joined in the monthly Bake Together I knew that Abby Dodge’s name rang a bell but I couldn’t put my finger on the exact reason.   I knew that she has contributed to many cookbooks and magazines but it was something more than that.  It gnawed at me and took me awhile to pin point it, but I finally realized that I have been cooking with her for quite some time now without even realizing it.

About 12 years back I was going through a pretty rough time.   We had recently moved back from the UK and were just getting settled back into our lives with my family when my father was diagnosed with cancer.  I was devastated to say the least.  My stepmother, sister and I jumped in and banded together to accompany him to his treatments and doctors’ appointments. This included many long days driving back and forth to Houston and winding our way through M.D. Anderson Cancer Center.

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An English Chip Shop Favorite: Mushy Peas

I often extol the virtues of English food in an attempt to counteract the bad reputation that it has earned over time.  Oh sure, just like any country’s cuisine, some of England’s unsavory food reputation has been well deserved, but let us not forget that we have Slim Jims and Spam ourselves.

As you can tell from reading my blog I am a real lover of unassuming, plain old simple cooking.  In England this spans the gamut from toad in the hole to bread and butter pudding. 

Somewhere in between are some of my favorites, steak and ale pie, sticky toffee pudding and fish and chips.

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Happy New Year 2012!: Ham and White Bean Soup

Well, happy New Year everyone! I hope you all went out and partied like it’s 1999. As for me and Mr. H, we stayed home last night and watched the Twilight Zone marathon and texted with our 17 year old.  I know, pretty pitiful huh? 

After going to bed last night at 10:00 (that’s 12 o’clock Miami time), I woke up this morning refreshed and ready to start the new year off right by my mopping my floors (the glamour never ends around here). To fortify myself I had a wonderful breakfast of leftovers from last night (this is where it gets good).

You might remember that we were given a Honey Baked ham from some very thoughtful neighbors for Christmas. We have eaten on that ham for the past week without getting tired of it at all. We had finally eaten it down to the point where it was no longer spiral sliced, so last night I cut the remainder of the ham off of the bone, chopped it and made a soup supper for us.

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A Really Good Egg: Soft Boiled Eggs with Crunchy Ham and Cheese Soldiers

I don’t know what my deal is lately with egg dishes, but if you’ll bear with me while I do one more, I think you’ll really like it.

I’m not a big breakfast eater.  Oh sure I love a big cooked breakfast with a mimosa or a cup of strong coffee with friends at a restaurant, but short of that not so much.  I certainly don’t enjoy cooking it or cleaning up the mess afterwards. 

I usually don’t get hungry anyway for a couple of hours after I get up in the morning; then I usually just dig through the fridge for some leftovers of some sort and heat them up.  Since there’s not always enough leftover ravioli and diet Dr. Pepper for everyone in the house, sometimes I just have to break down and crack an egg or two.  So, to fix this little problem I have found an answer that seems to work for everyone.

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Scotch Eggs for My Favorite Clock Setter

Most people I know look forward to changing their clocks and falling back in November regaining the hour they lost months earlier. Personally, I hate it. I wish “they” would just leave things alone because I can’t stand changing my clocks. My aversion to this usually leaves all of our clocks displaying the correct time, with the exception of five or so displaying the old time which always belong to me.

Even though I planned to get around to changing them eventually, I really had some good excuses for not doing it. The two clocks in my car need a paperclip or toothpick to poke a little tiny button to change them, which I never seem to remember unless I’m already driving.  Then there’s my wrist watch which requires some secret combination of winding and pulling that apparently only a sadist named Tag Heuer really knows for sure how to do.

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A Treat for My Valentine: Pan de Polvo Pancakes

Pan De Polvo Pancakes

I feel so fortunate to have grown up in such a culturally rich part of the country; the biggest by product of this being the wonderful food that I grew up eating.  Chicken fried steak, enchiladas, tacos, kolaches and great barbeque were so abundant that I took them for granted as a kid.

It was not until I got a little older that I started to realize that food being great was not a given, even in Texas.  Then as I started to pay for it myself I realized that there were people who couldn’t or wouldn’t cook well and would gladly take your money for it with no apologies.  What a disappointment that was.  It was about this point that I began to really miss and appreciate the wonderful home cooking that I had been eating my entire life. 

Thankfully it wasn’t long before I realized I wasn’t the only one that felt this way about simple, down home food.  I even worked for a caterer who encouraged his cooks to make their pies and breads far less than perfect to send a message to diners that everything they were eating was lovingly made by human hands.  He was a real challenge to work for, but the man knew what people wanted.

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An Evening at the Rio Grande: Spectacular Spinach Enchiladas

A couple of weeks ago the blogger group I belong to was invited to a dinner at the Rio Grande restaurant in downtown Denver.  Hosted by Owner, Pat McGaughran; CEO, Jason Barrett; and Food and Beverage Director, Steve Richter, they wanted to unveil some of their dishes from their new and improved menu and were hoping that we’d help spread the word to our readers.

Pat McGaughran started the evening off by giving us a little history of the restaurant.  He explained that he started his business back in 1986 with two of his childhood friends from Houston.  After wandering around the US, Mexico and Central America the three of them found themselves sleeping on the floor in the apartment of one of their big sisters who was a college student at Colorado State in Fort Collins.

After a while she tired of their company and basically told them to get a haircut and get a real job (or something like that).  Faced with the reality of adulthood, they did what many of us only dream of; they started making margaritas and Mexican food and selling them.  And sell them they did.  Long story short, a bazillion margaritas later, there are now six locations across Colorado. 

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Fado Irish Pub and My Version of Their Smoked Salmon Bites

I’ll be in London in just a few days and I am so excited.  I know that all the security experts say that you shouldn’t tweet or Facebook your whereabouts, much less talk about them in a blog for strangers and potential burglars to read, but  I’m not worried.  Since I am traveling on my own this time, I am leaving behind a vicious guard dog and a houseful of giant men armed with big burglar shooting guns to guard our house, so I’m really not too worried about posting this here.

Shortly after I finalized my plans to return to the UK after a two year hiatus, I went with a few other local bloggers to a carbohydrate tasting at Fado Irish Pub.  Even though I’d been on the South Beach diet for two weeks at this time (and not losing weight anyway), I figured this would be a good place to start training to get in shape for all the lager drinking and fish and chip eating to come.

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February #Baketogether With Abby Dodge: Amaretto No Bake Cheesecake with Toasted Almond and Biscoff Crust

For the month of February Abby Dodge has chosen a beautiful creamy cheesecake for her #baketogether. I was really happy to see this since I have been looking for an excuse for months now to make a dish from one of my favorite comfort food stops in Texas, Luby’s Cafeteria.  Feeling inspired by both of these recipes, I decided to blend elements of both and throw in a couple of my own ideas into the mix coming up with a delightful cake and a fun way to serve it and share it with friends.

When I was a teenager I loved going to Luby’s Cafeteria with my parents.  I was always in the mood to dine on their perfect macaroni and cheese along with a big rectangular piece of cracker crumb breaded fried fish topped with a generous dollop of creamy tartar sauce.  Mmmmm, perfection.

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South Beach Diet Friendly Recipe with Saucy Mama Mustard: My Cheesy and Flavorful French Hens and a Spicy Little Giveaway

It’s a new day around the Harris household.  Ever since I got sick of seeing that chubby girl who stalks me, staring back at me in the mirror, our dinner table has looked much different. Yes siree, I’ve got to get rid of her because she’s really starting to bum me out.

Little did I realize how many carbs we consumed each day until I started this new diet.  For the first 2 weeks we (when mama’s on a diet, everyone’s on a diet) were on full carb lockdown and I’m proud to say, doing pretty well until that Irish pub Guinness and cottage pie tasting a couple of nights ago.  I’ve since forgiven myself and I got right back up on that horse and picked up where I left off.

It really hasn’t been all that bad with maybe one or two exceptions.  I’ve been eating lots and lots of veggies and lean meats, low fat cheese and for a treat (this is where the trouble comes in), low-fat cottage cheese sprinkled with Splenda (weird and yuck!).  You may think me picky, but there is nothing about that that says “treat” to me.

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