We know there seems to be a day for pretty much anything this days, but a day devoted to that favorite libation of Jack Sparrow seems a natural one to celebrate!

So yes, Dear Dedicated Readers, it’s time to celebrate National Rum Day!

Mmmm... rum...

Mmmm… rum…

August 16, 2015 is the official National Rum Day, but the Harem & I started celebrating (and recipe testing) several days ago…

To backtrack a bit, I was contacted a while back by Caliche Rum with several recipes and an offer to try out their brand, so who am I to turn down an offer like that??? We tried a few recipes that sounded appealing, and here are our favorites:


Cali Strawberry Daiquiri

Cali Strawberry Daiquiri


Cali Strawberry Daiquiri

2 oz Caliche Rum

1 oz Fresh Lime Juice

¾ oz Agave Nectar

1 Fresh Strawberry

Garnish: Strawberry

In a shaker, combine all ingredients, then lightly muddle the strawberry. Shake vigorously until well chilled.  Strain into an ice filled rocks glass and garnish with strawberry.

I really liked this – compared to most versions (very thick and/or frozen), this was a lighter tasting drink and great for a hot summer day!


Cali Gold

Cali Gold

Cali Gold
2 oz Caliche Rum
1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
1/4 oz Fresh Pineapple Juice
¾ oz Simple Syrup
3 – 6 Cilantro Leaves
Garnish: Cilantro Leaf

In a rocks glass, combine all ingredients and lightly muddle Cilantro leaves. Top with crushed ice or preferably nugget ice. Garnish with a cilantro spring.

This turned out really nice! A simple, fruity concoction with the herbaceousness of cilantro… I’ll make this one again for sure!


Cali Intense

Cali Intense

Cali Intense

2 oz Barrows Intense Ginger Liqueur

1 oz Caliche Rum

Add club soda (or seltzer water for fewer calories) and fill over ice. Optional: Garnish with Lime.

Okay, I’ll admit I didn’t use the Barrows Liqueur… had Domaine de Canton Ginger Liqueur on hand, so I used that… and this turned out to be the most popular drink among the Harem!

All these recipes were winners, and I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest you try one (or all!) of them on National Rum Day (or any day, for that matter)!

Now I’ll admit I may not be the biggest expert on rum, but I did sample the Caliche on the rocks as well as in the old standby of rum and (diet of course) coke, and thought it was pretty dang tasty! Next time you find yourself in need of a bottle of rum (and with the holiday upon us, you just might!), it’s worth giving this brand a try… they have a nice web site (with even more recipes) if you want to give it a look…

Thanks to Caliche Rum (and in effort of Full Disclosure, I was given the samples free of charge, but all opinions/comments are strictly mine and objective) for providing the sample and recipes…

Okay kids, back to the bar! See you soon!


Once again it’s time for one of our favorite made-up holidays, National Tequila Day!

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

July 24th is celebrated as National Tequila Day, but Dedicated Readers will know that pretty much everyday is NTD around here!

Okay, so let’s celebrate with a drink recipe, shall we?

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

Most of the goods... be sure to use your best rocket-shaped cocktail shaker!

Most of the goods… be sure to use your best rocket-shaped cocktail shaker!

2 oz  Silver Tequila (break out the good stuff for this…)

1/2 oz  Lemon Juice (fresh-squeezed of course)

1/2 oz  Simple Syrup (you know how to make this by now, don’t you???)

2  Generous Lemon Wedges

6  Sprigs of Fresh Thyme

It's simple as syrup...

It’s simple as syrup…

Put the lemon juice, one of the lemon wedges, five of the thyme sprigs and the simple syrup into your shaker and muddle to break down the lemon and thyme. Add the tequila and a good handful of ice or two and shake until well-chilled (or until the darn shaker gets so cold you can’t hold the sucker any longer!).

Hope this isn't too much of a strain for you...

Hope this isn’t too much of a strain for you…

Take a spiffy glass and add some fresh ice. Strain the tasty liquid into same…

"i'm ready for my close-up..."

“I’m ready for my close-up…”

Garnish with the remaining thyme and lemon slice, take a couple of pictures, and drink away!

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

Tequila Thyme Lemonade

Since it’s predominantly tequila (and not like that’s a bad thing…) this is a slow-sipping beverage, but it doesn’t seem too strong at all. Tart and refreshing, this is a great drink to celebrate National Tequila Day on a steamy day in July!

This recipe came from Total Wine, so a big two thumbs-up to them! Hope you try and enjoy this! Please be sure to Like and Share with your adult-beverage-loving friends!

Back to the kitchen (with a stop at the bar on the way…), see you again soon!


Apple Margarita

Apple Margarita

With lots of apple varieties on sale and in season at the market, it got me to thinking… and of course Dedicated Readers will assume my thoughts went to how to use them in a margarita… and they would be correct!

And it’s been a while since I’ve given you a Margarita of the Month (maybe I should change it to Margarita of the Season?), so lets dive right in!

Apple Margarita

1/2 Cup  Apple Juice (if you have a juicer, making your own fresh juice would be ideal!)

4 Tbl  Silver Tequila

3 Tbl  Lime Juice (fresh squeezed)

2 Tbl  Triple Sec

1 Tbl  Agave Syrup (or Simple Syrup)

Salt  for rim of glass if desired

Slice of Apple for garnish if desired

Mix them up...

Mix them up…

Moisten the rim of the glass with a piece of lime and salt the rim – set aside.

Throw everything (except the garnish of course) into your cocktail shaker and add a big handful of ice… shake ‘er up good until the outside of the shaker gets frosty.

Shake 'n strain...

Shake ‘n strain…

Strain into the prepared glass (on the rocks or neat – your call) and garnish with a slice of apple…

Apple Margarita

Apple Margarita

then drink up!

This makes two pretty stiff drinks (or one for me…), and since it has all that apple, it’s gotta be a healthy drink! Right???

Give it a try, share your thoughts, you know the drill…

Back to the bar, and the kitchen! See you soon!


If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

Pork Chops and White Beans

Pork Chops and White Beans

With the chill of fall around much of the country, I thought it was the perfect time to share a warming, homey bowl of beany goodness!

Late last year I attended a cooking demo given by my buddy Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, to give an early introduction to his new Pork Chop cookbook.

Pork Chop Cookbook

Pork Chop Cookbook

As I flipped through the book before the demo began there were several recipes that looked good right off, but one really stood out to me as the one I wanted to make first: Pork Chops and White Beans.

I’d actually been craving a big mess of creamy white beans for quite a while – it’s one of those things that really takes me back to my youth in Alabama. Now I am of a Certain Age (read that: I’m an old fart), and when I was in grade school the lunch cooks actually cooked the food, and actually a lot of it was really good! By far my favorite lunch at Gilbert School was the white beans and ham hocks, a real Southern staple.

So not long after getting Ray’s book, Bonnie and I made the recipe with white beans, and it turned out even better than expected! Bonnie about swooned over the finished product, and I think if given the chance she might just leave me for that other guy with a goatee…

Let’s not wait any longer – Let’s Cook!


Pork Chops and White Beans


1 Lb  Dry White (Great Northern) Beans

1/2 Cup  Vegetable Oil, plus more as needed (Peanut, Canola, Olive all will work…)

6 Bone-In Pork Chops, about 3/4″ thick (most any cut should work, we used Sirloin… they were on sale…)

Salt and Pepper to taste

1/2 Cup  All-Purpose Flour

1  Red Onion, finely diced

3  Celery Stalk, finely diced

1  Green Bell Pepper, also (you guessed it) finely diced

1 Lb  Andouille Sausage, diced (we had smoked sausage on hand and used that – I’m thinking any good cooked, smoked, cured sausage should work – kielbasa, chorizo, etc.)

Well dice my sausage!

Well dice my sausage!

1 Tbl  Tomato Paste

2 Tsp  Dried Thyme

1 Quart  Vegetable Broth (I’m sure it wouldn’t suck if you had to use chicken broth, or a combo…)


The dried beans need to be soaked overnite: sort through he beans to check for any small stones or other alien objects (and yes, discard same if you find…), put into a large bowl and add cold/room temp water to cover by at least a couple of inches.

Beans under water...

Beans under water…

Cover the bowl and set aside at room temperature overnite. When getting ready to cook drain the beans.

Awaiting the knife...

Awaiting the knife…

Prep your veggies (dice the onion, celery and bell pepper; smash away at the garlic) and set aside.


Salt and pepper your meat on both sides.

Yeah, we coulda used a bigger plate...

Yeah, we coulda used a bigger plate…

Put the flour on a plate and coat the chops well all over – shake off the excess and set aside for now.

Nice piece of meat ready to go...

Nice piece of meat ready to go…

You’re going to need a big-ol’ Dutch oven or other heavy-bottomed large cooking vessel (we originally started cooking in a cast-iron Dutch oven, and then realized the whole thing just wasn’t gonna fit, so we then switched to a stockpot to finish off the dish, as the visually astute of you may notice from the accompanying pics) – add about 1/4 cup of the oil to your cooking vessel of choice and heat over medium-high.

Fry, fry, baby...

Fry, fry, baby…

When ready to go, add as many of the pork chops as will fit comfortably and fry until golden brown (about 5 minutes a side). Drain the browned chops on paper towels and let sit aside as you move on… the rest if the dish is going to cook a bit before they go back in, so if you want cover and throw into the ‘fridge…


Add the remaining 1/4 cup oil to the pot and throw in the chopped veggies. Cook a few (3 to 4) minutes until the onion is opaque then add the sausage du jour… continue cooking about 5 minutes or so until the veggies have softened.


Stir in the tomato paste, the thyme, 1 tablespoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the quart of broth, plus a quart of water and bring up to a simmer.


Add the drained beans and stir well. Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring now & then.


Add the chops, mix well and return to the simmer. Cover and cook for another hour, again stirring when you think about it…


Uncover and cook about another 45 minutes until the beans are tender and the gravy is as thick as you like (“the consistency of a bowl of chili” according to Dr. BBQ). Stir on occasion, trying not to break up the pork chops (at this point at least…).


Remove the chops to a serving plate and the beans to a bowl… this is really good with a side of greens and some cornbread (maybe try Grandma Hayes’s Corn Bread?)!


Or if you prefer, you can just break up the pork and toss on top of a bowl of beans…

So... darn... good...

So… darn… good…

and still dunk in some cornbread…

And here’s one more picture of the book in case you forgot what it looked like since the start of the post…

Pork Chop Cookbook

Pork Chop Cookbook

I’ve made several recipes from the book, and liked them all! If you like a bit of piggy on your plate, this book is worth picking up! I put up a post a while back of a chicken recipe that was inspired by one of the chop recipes from the book, you can see it here.

As always, I hope you give this one a try, and please post your thoughts in the comments!

Back to the kitchen – see you soon!


If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

Margarita of the Month: August 2014 – Mango Margarita

Mangoes seem to be everywhere (and on sale) now (well, in FL at least…), so it seems a logical choice for mixing into a margarita this month…

Mango Margarita

Mango Margarita


Mango Margarita

2 ounces  Gold Tequila

1 ounce  Triple Sec

1 ounce  Freshly-Squeezed Lime Juice

1/2 cup  Diced Mango Flesh

Lime Wheel for garnish if desired

Salt for the glass


The components...

The components…

Rub the remnants of your squeezed lime around the rim of your glass and dip in salt to crust the rim and set aside.

Blend, blend, baby...

Blend, blend, baby…

Throw everything else into your blender and let it have at it until very smooth…

Pour it on!

Pour it on!

Add some ice cubes to your prepped glass and pour the fruity goodness over…

Mango Margarita

Mango Margarita

garnish as desired and drink up!

Alternately you can shake the blended drink in a cocktail shaker with ice and strain to serve it “neat”, or you can add some crushed ice to the blender for a frozen version…

This makes one nice-sized summery-mangoey-fruity-tasty drink (go ahead and double-up the recipe if you please!) – only hard thing is cutting up one of those dang mangoes!

Back to the bar, and the kitchen! See you soon!


If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

If you’ve been watching any food TV recently, you’ve certainly seen the barrage of ads for the new foodie-film “The HundredFoot Journey” starring the still-so-hot-even-though-she’s-almost-70 Helen Mirren. Based on the novel by Richard C. Morais (which I did read and enjoyed immensely), the film is sure to be full of images to delight anyone who loves to eat, and to cook…

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

In the lead-up to the films debut their social media shared several recipes, both Indian and classical French dishes, reflecting the two main culinary references (and conflict) of the story. I decided to try the Tandoori recipe, which was titled “Tandoori Chicken Wings”, but for some reason the recipe didn’t use wings, but chicken legs (and the accompanying photo also was of legs)… so of course I used thighs… I like thighs…

As usual I did monkey around with the recipe a little, but not too much. The original recipe didn’t call for any marinating time, but most tandoori recipes I’ve seen call for a good time to marinate, and I did overnight to try to better infuse the flavors into the chicken. There’s not much heat in the marinade, but you could certainly up the Capsaicin-ante if you’re so inclined with some cayenne in the marinate.

So let’s delay no further, Let’s Cook!

Tandoori Chicken


Marinade goodies...

Marinade goodies…


2 1/4 tsp  Sweet Paprika

1 Tbl  Garam Masala

1 Tbl  Ground Cumin

1 Tbl  Ground Coriander

1/2 tsp  Ground Turmeric

1 Tbl  Grated Fresh Ginger

5 Cloves Garlic, finely minced

1 Tbl  Lemon Juice (fresh-squeezed, of course)

1/2 tsp  Salt

1/2 tsp  Ground Pepper

1/3 Cup  Plain Greek Yoghurt (I used 2%, but anything from fat-free to full strength should be fine)

1/2 Cup (about)  Canola Oil

3-4 Lbs  Chicken Pieces (I used thighs, see notes at end)

1 Cup  Chopped Cilantro

1 Large Shallot, minced (if they are small, use 2 or 3, duh…)

3 Tbl  White Vinegar



Mix the spices (paprika thru turmeric) and put into a dry skillet and turn the heat to medium-low.

Toastin' the spices...

Toastin’ the spices…

Stir constantly for 2-3 minutes to toast the spice mixture. When it starts to smell good it’s done (if it smells burnt, you screwed up… start over…). Remove to a bowl and let cool for a few…

Mixin' the marinade...

Mixin’ the marinade…

Add the ginger, garlic, lemon juice, salt, pepper, 1 tablespoon of the oil and yoghurt to the toasted spices and mix well.

Meet your meat...

Meet your meat…

To allow the marinade to get inside well (and also to allow the interior of the chicken to cook thru in the high heat), cut several slits into your thighs (the chicken thighs, that is…). Most tandoori recipes call for the chicken to be skinned (and that may be that the skin would burn if cooked in the intense heat a true tandoor oven…), but we likes us some skin around here, so I kept it on… do as you wish…

Throw the chicken into a big zip-loc bag and add the yoghurt marinade and massage in well. Stick in the ‘fridge overnight and turn and massage now & then when you think about it (or whenever you open the door to pull out a beer…).

Ready for the heat...

Ready to meet the heat…

When getting ready to cook preheat oven to 450 degrees and take the chicken out of the refrigerator to allow to come to room temp. Take a big baking sheet (or sheets) with a rack and oil same… rub any overly excess marinade off of the chicken (don’t be too anal about it) and put it on the rack and stick it in the oven.

It will probably take about 30-40 minutes total (until the pieces reach about 160 degrees in the thickest part). You’ll want to turn often, so set a timer to remind you every 8-10 minutes or so…

While to bird is cooking make the sauce to go alongside…



Take the cilantro, shallot, vinegar and 1/4 cup of the oil and mix well. Add salt to taste and set aside.



When the chicken is cooked thru, take out of the oven and turn the broiler on – be sure the chicken is skin-side up (if you kept it on) and stick under the broiler to get extra-nice-and-crispy… watching carefully of course not to let it burn.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Let it rest for a few minutes (or as long as you can stand) and serve with the cilantro sauce for dipping or dousing… basmati rice alongside would be nice (maybe a nice batch of Coconut Rice?) and a veggie or two of your choice (here it’s shown with a Simple Roasted Cauliflower, but I think a more saucy-side like Manchurian Cauliflower would probably go better).

As far as your choice of chicken goes, dark meat like thighs and/or legs will hold up well to the high heat cooking, and the wings would work as well… breasts will tend to dry out, but make them if you like and just be sure to pull them out the second they are done.

This recipe would also be great cooked outside on the grill if you can set it up for a high, indirect heat for the main cooking, and then put the pieces over direct heat to crisp up at the end.

Despite the relatively long list if ingredients, this is really a pretty simple dish to prepare, and the results are a deeply flavored flesh along with some yummy crispy skin (if you keep it on). The simple sauce adds a bit of moisture and some extra earthiness from the cilantro. Pour yourself a cold Kingfisher,  pop Monsoon Wedding into the dvd player (at least until The HundredFoot Journey comes out for home viewing) and enjoy a great meal!

As always, we’re back to the kitchen, see you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!






Margarita of the Month: July 2014 – Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

With today (July 24, 2014) being National Tequila Day, here’s a hot and sweet recipe to celebrate with!

Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

Just recently the good folks at Torani sent me a sample bottle of their new Sweet Heat Syrup to try out.

Torani Sweet Heat Syrup

Torani Sweet Heat Syrup

This syrup takes pure cane sugar and laces it with the heat of the bhut jolokia, aka the Ghost Pepper! There is plenty of heat from the pepper, but it has none of the pepper’s flavor, so you can fire up your drinks and flavor them as you like. When I got this my mind immediately went to tequila (as it so often does…), so let’s get into making a spicy cocktail!

Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

2 ounces  Reposado Tequila

1 ounce  Torani Sweet Heat Syrup

1 1/4 ounces  Lime Juice (fresh-squeezed of course, about 1 lime)

4 sprigs  Fresh Cilantro

Salt for the glass

The goods...

The goods…

Rub the remnants of your squeezed lime around the rim of your glass and dip in salt to crust the rim and set aside.

Put the lime juice and two sprigs of the cilantro into your cocktail shaker and muddle the cilantro to release it’s flavor. Add the tequila, Sweet heat Syrup and a good handful (or two) of ice cubes. Put on the top and shake until you’re silly!

Pour it in!

Pour it in!

Drop the other two sprigs of cilantro into your glass and strain the drink into the awaiting vessel.

Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

Sweet Heat Cilantro Margarita

And drink up! This makes one very spicy and very tasty libation! If you like your ‘ritas on the hot side, give this a try!

If you want to temper the heat level a bit, cut back on the Sweet Heat and add simple syrup or agave syrup to make up the same volume.

Thanks again to Torani for the Sweet Heat sample, and I do have some other ideas for this product, so we may see more of this item in future posts… and yes, in Full Disclosure, we were sent the sample gratis, but I did quite like it and can see many potential uses for it for the heat-lover!

Happy National Tequila Day! We’re back to the bar, see you soon!

If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to “like” and “share”!

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