I’m Alive

It is hard to believe I have not created one post on my blog in over three years. A lot has happened in that time. I visited Yosemite National Park with my aunt and uncle in 2016. In 2017 my dog Buddy got a little brother. I don’t know his breed, Toby was given to me by someone who didn’t know what he was. He looks like Disney’s Tramp, but the artist that created Tramp was drawing her version of a mutt so that is no help. My mother passed away and I got married in 2018. I have read well over 200 books. And I have cooked a lot.

Tammy and Julio on 1/132/2019
 Tammy Sue and Julio   //    January 2019

My husband is latino and I am caucasion as evidenced above. We have two very different cultures at work in our home. This is obvious in our cooking. I love italian food and he loves spicy comfort food. I had plenty of spices on hand when we married so our kitchen works well for both of us. But anything I serve without extra heat I have to make sure he has some sort of hot pepper, whether it’s a spice or sauce, to put on his food. I rarely make anything anymore that I haven’t adjusted to a spicy version unless I am cooking solely for myself.

Some things never change. My Bacon Wrapped Chicken Stuffed with Cream Cheese and Jalapenos post is still the most popular thing I have ever shared. I feel the need to update that post since I now grill the peppers and I often marinate the stuffed chicken in spicy cajun marinade. I was living in Louisiana 9 years ago and there was a meat market that made them. They were so delicious. I can’t say I make them exactly the same because I had to make them based on something prepped by others. But they taste the same to me. It is a simple stuffed chicken. You can vary the type of bacon used. Some times I use hickory smoked and other times I will use Applewood. You can also vary the seasoning on the outside. Some people like simple black pepper. I like to make the stuffed chicken a day ahead and marinate in a vaccum sealed bag in the refrigerator.

Here’s to a brand new year and a brand newlywed life.

St. Louis Style Pizza

I am currently visiting Missouri for the holidays. I can’t get anything close to St. Louis Style pizza on the gulf coast so that has been priority one in the food department on this trip. The defining characteristics are fresh made thin crust and provel cheese. Imo’s Pizza does not count! They use mass produced pizza shells. Yuck! When I was a kid Imo’s made the crust fresh but no one but me seems to even remember that!

First stop was Pirrones Pizzeria. This style is my favorite. Same recipe as Saullo’s. Some people say it is too greasy but I order cheese only and do not have that experience. They load up the toppings so I can imagine that a meat lovers type pizza would be greasy!

Cheese Pizza from Pirrone's
Cheese Pizza from Pirrone’s

Next stop was Tony’s B’s in Fenton, MO. Good pizza is harder to find in South County. But this particular style is a recipe similar to Nick & Elena’s Pizzeria and Serra’s Pizzeria in North County.

Cheese Pizza at Tony B's
Cheese Pizza from Tony B’s

Though it is not St. Louis Style pizza, I prefer Arris’ Pizza when I am at the Lake of the Ozarks. It has a fresh made thin crust and good cheese. It is a greek restaurant so you can get feta cheese but that is not to my taste. Quality mozzarella cheese is fine for me.

Cheese Pizza at Arris'
Cheese Pizza from Arris’

So far that is all that I have had while in Missouri. If I could go to Saullo’s and Serra’s I totally would but not having a car makes it impossible to go to each place.

Vacation with Holly

Holly flew down to Gulfport from Missouri for a short holiday this month. I picked her up at the airport around 11:00 am on Friday, March 12th. First stop was to get a pedicure.

Lunch at Salute

After our pedicures I took Holly to have lunch at Salute Italian Restaurant on the coast. I had a Ceasar salad and Holly had the Chicken Salute Salad. My only complaint was service related. Normally the server will offer fresh shredded cheese and ground pepper and our server offered neither. I could chalk this oversight up to the lunch rush. But I’ve been there before during the lunch rush and had a better server. All in all it was a wonderful lunch and a great place to start getting Holly acclimated to the Gulf Coast.

Gulfport Beach

After that we drove up the coast to the I-110 inner belt in Biloxi. We took that up to D’Iberville so we could get a few items at Target. This particular Target is new so it has a grocery in it. We had decided to make the first night pizza and a movie.  When it comes to a frozen pizza I really only like Archer Farms Handmade Wood-Fired pizzas which are imported frozen from Italy. Way to go Target for making this deliciousness available to us!

Ocean Springs, MS

Saturday was going to be our shopping day and then we were planning to cook a very nice meal that evening. My plan was to go to the Ocean Springs Fresh Market and buy some of the produce for our dinner.  Unfortunately, the Fresh Market was a complete bust. If I had used my sense, yes I have some, I would have realized that March 13th is way too early for fabulous fresh produce. LOL.

But our trip to Ocean Springs was still lovely. We had lunch at The Bayview Gourmet. I had the BLT and Holly got the Quesadilla Wrap. She was still trying to stay on her diet so she had the kitchen hold all of the good stuff..cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc. She then asked me if I wanted to try it but I told her it looked a little dry. She agreed and then asked the server for a side of salsa. My sandwich was tasty…on bakery wheatberry with mayo..YUM!

Holly outside a small shop in Ocean Springs

We then hit some of the shops downtown. Ocean Springs downtown center is filled with shops featuring the varied works of local gulf coast artists. I just looked…didn’t want to touch anything…you break it you buy it. Holly bought a lovely small ceramic bowl that she planned to use for her coffee spoon once she got back home. It was gorgeous. I treated myself to a small bag of taffy candies. I am still enjoying them!

View of Biloxi from the US Hwy 90 Bridge between Ocean Springs and Biloxi

We then went to Lil’ Gourmet Shop & Specialty Meats. This store used to be in Gulfport but has since moved to a new location in Biloxi. We purchased fresh Tuna and a fresh meaty whitefish. I wish I could remember what kind it was. The plan for dinner was Tuna Speidini but Holly doesn’t care for tuna. So they hooked us up with a mild meaty whitefish that would hold up well when skewered. We also bought a couple of stuffed potatoes. It was a combo pack…one was stuffed with crab and the other was stuffed with shrimp. Due to the Fresh Market being a bust we had to stop by Winn Dixie for our bakery bread, produce and fresh spices to fix our entrée and appetizer.

Brushetta on fresh baked Crostini

The appetizer we prepared was Bruschetta. We bought a french baguette to bake fresh crostini. I made the bruschetta with tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh garlic clove, olive oil, salt and fresh ground pepper. Holly prepared the Tuna Speidini and I must say the marinade was delicious. Course Giada De Laurentiis is a rock star!!

Tuna Speidini with stuffed potatoes

We both tried a bit of each of the stuffed potatoes and they were very rich. Loved them!!! We just love cooking so it was a great day. The weather was fabulous and there is something about painstakingly shopping for all of your ingredients and then whipping up the meal. So satisfying!

I enjoyed my Skyy cocktails and Holly enjoyed her beers so Sunday morning we relaxed and prepared for our afternoon and big night out. Since we had driven eastward up the coast twice so far I chose to go west over to Bay St. Louis. It was a lovely drive. We forgot about the time change so it was an hour later than we thought which worked out well. We went to French Charley’s Cafe & Wine Bar in Pass Christian for dinner which doesn’t start serving until 5 pm. I love tapas so I had been looking forward to trying this restaurant out.

View from French Charley's Cafe and Wine Bar

I enjoyed the Alexander Valley Chardonnay while Holly enjoyed the Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale. She said it might be her new favorite.  For dinner we split three different tapas plates:

  1. JAMAICAN JERK GRILLED JUMBO SHRIMP
  2. PAN-SAUTEED MINI CRAB CAKES
  3. GRILLED FILET MIGNON TIPS

The maytag blue cheese cream and red wine reduction on the beef tips almost made up for them being  just a hair overcooked. Not to complain though…it’s not hard to over cook tiny pieces of filet.  It was a wonderful dinner but in hindsight we probably should have eaten a rich filling italian meal that would stick to your bones. Because, see, we went to the casino after dinner.

I wanted to take Holly to the IP Casino to play some video poker. She was like, “I don’t like to gamble.” I said, “listen, we can leave if you hate it.” We got home a little after 6 am.

I got kissed

I was innocently talking to a young man (he was only 28) at the bar. Holly said, “oh you guys, let me take your picture!” So I scooted up next to him to pose appropriately and he pulled me around and laid one one me! I responded in kind. I didn’t want to be rude. That was the highlight of the big night out for me.

Monday I didn’t do anything except feel terrible. Since it was after 7 in the morning by the time I got to bed I had a pretty bad hangover. I haven’t stayed up all night since Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year. I remember saying then that I will NEVER stay up all night again. I don’t know how these things just happen 😉