Alabama Seafood

The Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area is a favorite vacation spot of mine. For more than 30 years my family has gone there to enjoy the sun, the sand, and of course, the seafood. There are a number of super restaurants in the area, and we enjoy our own style of seafood dishes, as well. Sometimes we even get lucky and catch our own. This good fishing trip was a few vacations ago.

I also love going to the seafood market for fresh shrimp when I'm there. I haven't been to the beach this year, and I sure would like to go and enjoy some Alabama seafood. I have a couple of my shrimp dishes entered in the Southern Living photo contest, and you'll never guess what the prize is. A trip to Gulf Shores! It would be amazing to sink my toes in the sand right before I sink my teeth in some of that great Alabama seafood.

Shrimp dip


This shrimp dip and jambalaya are the two #ALseafood dishes I have entered in the contest. These are two favorite recipes, and they can be found in the recipe index at the top of this page. I have to add that our Arkansas rice mixes very well with that Alabama shrimp in the jambalaya. In order to qualify for that trip, my dishes could use a few votes over on the Southern Living page here. But even if you don't want to vote, head over there and see all the great seafood on display. I have to warn you though, it could tempt you to take a trip to Gulf Shores for some of the scrumptious local seafood.



Errands, Rain and Meat Loaf

Today was one of those gray, rainy days outside. After waiting in line for 45 minutes at one of my business errands, then getting wet as I dashed for my car, I decided this would be a perfect day for some comfort food. I had a new meat loaf recipe I wanted to try. Several weeks ago I saw it posted on my friend Beth's Facebook page, and I saved it. Then I stashed it somewhere, as I often do with recipes. The only problem with that is finding the recipe again when I want to use it. I went through a number of recipes, and finally came up with the right one. I'm glad I did because this meat loaf is easy to make and is soooo delicious. The original recipe came from Beth's mother, Archie, who is well into her 90's now. I have learned to pay attention when a 90-year-old wants to share a recipe. This is a recipe I won't lose again.

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Meat Loaf

1/2 cup catsup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon prepared mustard
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 pound ground beef
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced parsley

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray. In a small saucepan, mix catsup, brown sugar, mustard, vinegar, and nutmeg. Heat until mixture begins to bubble, then remove from heat. Set aside.
In a large bowl, mix together ground beef, egg, and bread crumbs. Add salt, pepper, onion, and parsley. Stir in 1/2 of the cooled sauce; mix well. Shape into a loaf and place in the prepared baking dish. Bake for 40 minutes. Spread remaining 1/2 of sauce over top of meatloaf. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.



Pumpkin Muffins

Although the daytime temperatures are still summertime hot, you might want to grab a jacket for early morning or night time. The season is changing and that brings changes in what we cook and bake. One of the fall tastes most people enjoy is pumpkin. There are so many different ways to use pumpkin, and muffins are just one example. My sister baked these muffins for me recently. They smell wonderful and taste even better.

Pumpkin Muffins

1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup toasted walnuts, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a standard 12-cavity muffin pan with paper liners. In a large bowl, combine coconut oil, sugar, and brown sugar. Add eggs and vanilla extract. Stir in pumpkin puree. In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Combine flour mixture with pumpkin mixture. Add walnuts, if using. Spoon batter in prepared muffin pan. Bake muffins for 20 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.


My Favorite Dough Whisk

I have a new favorite kitchen tool. It's called "the original dough whisk". This is one gadget that belongs in every kitchen. I don't know how I ever got along without it. I received mine as a birthday gift from my sister back in the spring of this year. I've been using it almost 4 months now, and I couldn't keep quiet about it any longer.

This whisk isn't made like any of my other whisks. This whisk is a long 13.5 inches and is sturdily made with a wooden handle. It's great for stirring bread dough or any kind of batter. Previously, I almost always used my big heavy mixer to make bread, but with this whisk, it's not necessary to get the big mixer out. It amazes me every time I use it. To clean it, you simply put it under the water faucet and everything rinses off.

I just bought another one of these to give as a gift. I can't think of anything better to give to someone who likes to cook. Whether you bake bread on a regular basis or make an occasional box of packaged brownie mix, this is the whisk to use. If you're a person who doesn't like a lot of kitchen gadgets and prefer to only buy the basics, I think you'll find this is one of those basics. I love kitchen gadgets, but this whisk could replace any number of my other whisks and spoons. I now reach for this one any time I need to stir a batter.

This post has been written because the original dough whisk is a product I love to use. It works very well, and I wanted to share it with my friends. All opinions are my own. I am not affiliated with the makers of this whisk, nor have I received any compensation.


Easy Cherry Coffee Cake

Way back in the '60's my mother would make a dessert something like this cherry coffee cake. Hers wasn't exactly like this, and if I remember correctly she called it a magic cobbler. I'd love to have that recipe she used. I'm pretty sure she made hers with self-rising flour and milk, but beyond that I don't know. I do remember that the batter rose to the top and made a crust. This recipe makes a cake-like layer at the bottom. The recipes are different, but enough alike that I was reminded of helping mother cook when I was a little girl. Mother didn't leave behind enough of her recipes in written form. If anyone has that old magic cobbler recipe send it my way, please.

This cherry coffee cake is perfect to carry to a potluck. It also goes well with an afternoon coffee or tea. Adding whipped cream or a scoop of ice cream would turn it into a fancy dessert.

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Easy Cherry Coffee Cake

1/2 cup sugar
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup milk
1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add melted butter and stir with a fork until mixture is crumbly. Reserve 1/2 cup of the crumb mixture to be used as topping, set aside. Add eggs and milk to the remaining crumb mixture. Spread batter in the prepared baking dish. Spread cherry pie filling over the batter, but do not mix. Sprinkle the reserved crumbs over the top. Bake for 45 minutes.


Heavenly Brownies

Today when I set about to make a dessert I found a box of chocolate cake mix in the pantry. I was determined to utilize that lone cake mix and avoid a trip to the grocery store on a busy Saturday. After a search of several cookbooks, I found a recipe that fit the ingredients I happened to have. This brownie recipe came from a cookbook called 101 Things to do with a Cake Mix. I added more pecans than the original 1/2 cup in the recipe because I love lots of pecans. I also recommend these brownies be baked for about 30 minutes. The suggested time in the recipe is 40 - 50 minutes. I baked mine for 40 minutes, and they should have been taken out of the oven sooner. Nevertheless, these brownies are a sweet treat. Chocolate topped off with a cream cheese layer is always a good thing.

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Heavenly Brownies

First layer
1 regular size box chocolate cake mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg
3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

Top layer
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
2 eggs
1 pound powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.
In a large bowl, combine dry cake mix, butter, and egg. Stir in pecans, if desired. Batter will be very stiff. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
In a separate bowl, beat together cream cheese, eggs, and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over first layer. Bake for about 30 minutes. Allow to cool, cut into squares.


Chicken and Rice Casserole

This versatile casserole is great as a family meal, it's delicious to serve to guests, and it makes a popular take-along for a potluck. Whatever the occasion, you'll get compliments on this chicken and rice casserole. It's easy to make and easy to love.

I received an email today from a friend about the importance of buying American made products. One of the local products I support is rice. I appreciated the reminder about buying other kinds of goods, and given a choice, I will always buy products made in the U.S.A. Jobs of all kinds depend on our support. Since my brother is a rice farmer in Arkansas, I am devoted to buying and using Riceland rice. We can support farmers and other workers by checking the label before we buy.

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Chicken and Rice Casserole

1 - 1 1/3 pounds chicken breast, cooked and chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10.5 ounce) can cream of chicken soup
2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
1 1/2 cups uncooked long grain white rice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
4 ounces shredded mild cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Prepare a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Place chicken in baking dish. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil. Add onions, celery, and garlic. Sauté until tender. In a large bowl, combine chicken soup, chicken broth, rice, salt, pepper, oregano, and sautéed mixture. Pour mixture over chicken, stir slightly. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle cheese over top of casserole, then return to oven without foil for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and allow to stand 5 minutes before serving.