Seared Steak Blistered Tomatoes And Mushrooms

I think if Larry had his druthers, he would steak everyday of the week. He is most definitely a meat and potatoes kind of guy. And while we were in Cozumel, we didn’t eat any beef at all. I think he was going through some withdrawals. It was definitely time for some steak. I needed more vegetables. So, I combined the two and made a delicious dinner that satisfied us both. I seared some steak and added some blistered tomatoes and mushrooms on top.

I have cooked many steaks in my day, and still continue to do so all the time. My favorite way to prepare a good steak is to sear it and give it a nice crust, then roast it to perfection until it is cooked just right, at a perfect, juicy medium rare (for me, more towards the rare side). Or to make it easier, sear, flip and roast. Adding the mushrooms and tomatoes turned a very good steak into a gourmet steak.

Seared Steak with Blistered Tomatoes and Mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 450*f or 232* C.

2 lbs steak, about `1 1/2 inches thick

coarse salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

4 TBSP olive oil


1 TBSP garlic

1-1 1/2 cups tomatoes, either cherry or other small tomatoes

2 cups whole mushrooms, rinsed and stems removed

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 TBSP lemon olive oil, optional

2 TBSP white balsamic vinegar

1/4 small red onion, sliced very thin

1 jalapeno, diced fine, optional

Place a large skillet in the oven and get VERY hot. Add about 2 TBSP of olive oil long with about 2 TBSP of butter to the hot skillet. Add the steak and sear for about 3 minutes per side to give it a nice crust all around. The time will vary depending on the thickness of the steak. If need be, you can sear it again for 1-2 minutes per side after the 3 minutes and flips.

Combine the remaining olive oil, lemon olive oil, mushrooms rosemary, garlic, onions, tomatoes and jalapenos and toss together gently. I had some leftover jalapeno and garlic mixture from when I made my compound butter Yucatecan Pork, so I added that as well.

Spray a cooking pan with cooking spray, add the steak and top with the vegetables. Roast for about 4 minutes, then remove the steak to let it rest for about 5 minutes. While the steak is resting, place the vegetables back in the oven to continue to roast for an additional 5 or so minutes, or until the tomatoes start to break down. Blistering tomatoes is a quick, easy and delicious way to serve cherry tomatoes. They are good on their own, or as a topping for just about anything you like, but especially steak.

When everything is ready, serve the steak topped with the tomatoes and mushrooms, and Bon Appetite! I served it all over some mashed potatoes with some warmed ciabiatta and a glass or two of red wine on the side. DELICIOUS!

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.


Nature Walks – The Curious Squirrel

I love it when I see all my friends from the ales. I really love it when they are curious and playful too. The more engaging my “friends’ are, the more pictures I will take of them. Such was the case for my curious and playful little squirrel.

It’s OK to get squirrely every now and then. Be curious, play and have fun. And have a great day everyone. 🙂

Blackberry Apple Coffee Cake

I made yet another delicious Irish recipe for St. Patrick’s Day. This time it was an apple blackberry coffee cake with a streusel topping in honor of the day. This traditional rustic Irish cake is also knows as a Kerry apple cake in some parts of Ireland.

Blackberries are my favorite berries. Often I just eat them right out of the container. I start with a few and then before I know it, the whole container is empty and all the blackberries are gone. I also love apples. My favorites are Galas, but then I will eat any kind of apple. And I love the combination of the two flavors together too. Maybe my love for both apples and blackberries comes from my Irish and Celtic roots. Or maybe it’s just because they are two great flavors that just happen to taste great together. Who knows? 🙂

Both apples and blackberries have been a part of the Irish diet for centuries. If you are in Ireland from June through July, you will find blackberries growing wild along the roadsides. Blackberries are used in many different Irish recipes, and are cooked in many different ways, from jams and jellies to cakes, to sauces and oh so much more.

Apples have been a part of the Irish diet for over 3000 years, dating back to the times of the Ancient Romans. Though apples play a dominant role in Irish cooking, and have been a part of the Irish folklore, myths and legends for centuries, the only apples that are truly native to Ireland are the crab apples. Crab apples were known as wild apples in Ireland and were listed as one of the seven ‘Nobles of the Wood’, believed to be an important food source since the first humans set foot in the country. Traditionally, crab apples were made into wine, cider and juice, but were also used to flavor mead. They are still used in these ways today and grow in abundance on the roadside and in gardens and woodland. Today, however, there are many varieties of apples that are grown all over Ireland.

For this particular cake recipe, I borrowed bits and pieces from other recipes and combined them to make my own blackberry apple streusel cake. The result was yet another delicious cake that was a success on the coffee cart.

Blackberry Apple Coffee Cake

The Streusel

2/3 cup sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

3/4 cup flour

1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

4 TBSP cold butter, cubed

Mix everything together either with your hands or with a pastry cutter until it resembles a coarse sand. Set aside until ready to use.

Coat the blackberries in flour so they don’t bleed.

Preheat the oven to 350* F or 190*C.

Spray a bundt pan with cooking spray then lightly coat with flour. You can also use a 9×13 baking dish as well if you prefer.

The Cake

1 3/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup or 1 stick softened butter

3 eggs

16 oz yogurt or sour cream

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1 container blackberries

1 large apple, peeled and diced

Combine all the dry ingredients together and set aside.

Mix the butter and sugar together, then add the eggs 1 at a time, beating in between each addition. Add the vanilla. Add 1/2 of the flour mixture and beat again. Alternate between the flour and the yogurt or sour cream until it is all mixed together. I used yogurt this time, though I don’t notice much difference between the two, and interchange them all the time.

Gently fold in the apples and blackberries.

Evenly distribute 1/2 of the batter into the prepared pan. Add 1/2 of the streusel on top of the batter.

Add the remaining batter on top of the streusel then add the remaining streusel on top. Bake for about 1 1/2 hours, or until it is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Allow the cake to cool completely before removing it from the pan, then slice it up and share with friends. Blasta! This cake showcases the flavors of tart, crisp apples and floral, juicy blackberries set under a buttery, streusel topping. It’s sweet, but not overly sweet, and is a nice treat to have at breakfast, afternoon tea, or dessert. With simple flavors, this light, tender, buttery cake has a hint of warm cinnamon flavor while its texture is a bit denser than that of a sponge cake and is more similar to a coffee cake.

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Irish Pork Chops with Brussels Sprouts and Apples

I know since I will now be sharing two pork dishes in one week you are probably thinking that all we ate was pork since we’ve been home. Not true at all. It’s just how it all worked out. We did, however, just happen to have pork twice this week. The first time was the Yucatecan Pork Yucatecan Pork and then again for St. Patrick’s Day with Brussels sprouts and apples.

Pork has always been an important and key ingredient in the diet of the Irish people, dating back at least 12,000 years. In fact, pork constitutes about 34% of the Irish meat consumption. It is the second most popular meat eaten in Ireland. It is eaten in many different ways all over the country too, from sausages to bacon, to ham, and pork in many other, various forms and cooked in many different and delicious recipes.

Americans think that corned beef and cabbage is one of the national dishes of Ireland, and that it is what all the Irish people eat on St. Patrick’s Day. But it is in fact, more of an Irish American tradition than it is in Ireland itself. Personally, I am not a big corned beef and cabbage fan, so I purposely DON’T make it much for St. Patrick’s Day, though I do make it on occasion. Larry likes it much more than I do. I prefer to make other traditional Irish dishes instead. Sometimes I make fish or seafood dishes, sometimes beef dishes, or Guinness stew, or lamb. And sometimes, like this year, I cook pork.

This year’s Irish pork dish was made with Brussels sprouts, apples, onions and pecans. You can also make this dish with chicken too, if you prefer, which I have also done. It is very good with either chicken or pork, but I have to say, I think I actually prefer it with the pork.

Pork Chops With Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Pecans

I marinated my pork chops in lemon balsamic vinegar, olive oil and salt & pepper for about 3 hours before searing it. My chops were nice and thick, so I seared them for about 3 minutes per side to give a nice crust all around. You can finish cooking it in the oven for a bout 10-15 minutes if need be, to make sure it is fully cooked and has an internal temperature of 160-165*F.

2 lbs pork chops, cut thick

1 lb shaved Brussels sprouts

1 large red apple, sliced thin

1/2 onion, sliced thin

1/2 red bell pepper, sliced thin

1 TBSP garlic

2-3 TBSP white balsamic vinegar

2-3 TBSP lemon balsamic vinegar, optional

1 TBSP brown sugar

salt & pepper to taste

1/3 cup toasted pecans, chopped

olive oil and butter for cooking

While the pork is cooking, in another pan, cook the Brussels sprouts, apples, bell pepper, onions and garlic for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently. I seared the pork in a combination of both butter and olive oil and just olive oil for the vegetables.

Add the brown sugar, salt & pepper and white balsamic vinegar, and lemon balsamic vinegar if using, and cook for an additional minute or two. Then add the pecans and mix together thoroughly. Add the pork chops to the vegetable mixture and cook for an additional 3-5 minutes.

The pork will be tender and flavorful. The lemon and white balsamic vinegars combined with the apples and the brown sugar will give a tart and tangy flavor that will really compliment the pork nicely. I served this alongside my Irish Fadge Irish Fadge and a glass or two of white wine as well to make for a traditional Irish dinner. Just perfect for St. Patrick’s Day, especially of you are looking for something other than corned beef and cabbage. Blasta, which is Irish for delicious!

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The Hairy Woodpecker

I just love seeing all my birds and all the other creatures around my lakes. Yesterday my friend Lauren and I were taking a walk around our lakes when I looked up in the trees and spotted a Hairy Woodpecker. We don’t see too many of these, so they are always a treat when I do. At first there were two, but one flew away. I guess he was camera shy. But the other one posed for the camera long enough for me to get a few good shots.

Have a great day and make everyday great.

Irish Fadge

Fadge is a type of Irish and Scottish potato bread. It’s made like a lot of other potato breads with mashed potatoes and flour, except it contains no yeast. Fadge is also called Farls in some parts. Fadge or Farls, or whatever you like to call it, has been around since about the mid 1800’s. You will also hear this popular potato bread called slims, potato cakes or tatie bread too. Potatoes were used as either a replacement or as an enhancement to the flour when wheat was in short supply, thus making it too expensive for the poor people. Potatoes were also used in breads in both Ireland and Scotland because their climates are not known for being conducive for growing wheat, yet are perfect for growing potatoes.

Fadge is an Irish/Scottish potato bread that is very popular and can be cooked in a variety of different ways. It can be cooked on a griddle, or pan-fried or even baked in the oven. As with any dish that has been around for a long time, there are always different variations, such as the proportion of potatoes to flour. Some people prefer more potato to flour, while others like more flour to potato. Some people even like to add apples to their fadge.

I made fadge yesterday in honor of my Celtic roots, both Irish and Scottish. I made mine without apples, since I used apples in my main dish.

Before we left to go down to Cozumel, I had some mashed potatoes that I froze, knowing I was going to use them when we came home. I was pretty sure I was going to make some kind of potato bread with it, and sure enough I did. I made fadge.

Irish Fadge

2 lbs potaotes

1 egg, beaten

1/2 stick butter

3 TBSP flour

2 TBSP chopped parsley

2 TBSP chopped green onion or chives and/or lemon thyme

milk or heavy whipping cream

salt & pepper

bacon fat, or oil for frying

Boil the potatoes and mash them, just like you would with any other kind of mashed potatoes. I use heavy whipping cream in my mashed potatoes to make them extra creamy.

Add the flour, herbs and seasonings, and the egg and mix together well. If you like your bread a bit more stiff, add more flour.

Form the dough into a round and dip into a bit more flour.

My dough did not come quite out how I had intended at first, because my potatoes got a little watery from the freezing. Have no fear though. When there’s a will, there’s a way. I put my dough into an 8 inch springform cake pan, coated with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. Then added some butter on top and baked it at 350* F or 190*C for about 30 minutes before pan-frying it to make it crispy and brown. This allowed for it to set so it would hold together to pay-fry it.

After baking it I placed it in hot oil and continued to cook it for about 4 minutes per side, until it was golden brown and crispy all around. After it has cooked for about 4 minutes on one side, carefully flip it over with 2 spatulas to continue cooking on the other side.

When the fadge is browned on both sides, remove it from the oil and cut it into 8 wedges. Then serve alongside your favorite Irish or Scottish foods and enjoy. Fadge is very much like a potato cake or a potato latke.

Whether you are Irish or Scottish by blood or just Irish for the day, I hope you all enjoyed your St. Paddy’s Day. Have a great day and make everyday great. ‘Til next time.

Yucatecan Pork

As you know, we are home now, and I am back to cooking in my own kitchen once again. Even though we are back home in Denver, my taste buds seem to still be somewhere in the Yucatan regions of Mexico. I made some Yucatecan pork for dinner that rivaled many of the dishes we recently enjoyed in Cozumel.

First I marinated my pork chops in lime juice with some chili lime seasoning, garlic, cumin and cilantro for about 3 hours, to make it it juicy and tender and to let all the delicious Mexican flavors penetrate the meat.

Next I made a compound butter of jalapenos, garlic, lime juice, cilantro and more of the same seasonings, as well as a dash of cayenne pepper. Once the butter was made, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and let it set in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.

Put all the ingredients together in the food processor except the butter. Once they are all chopped fine, mix it all into softened butter, then place it all on a piece of plastic wrap and roll. The tightly seal it and refrigerate.

I sliced some some onions, red bell pepper and delicato squash into thin slices. and sauteed them all in some olive oil with a dash of the compound butter and salt & pepper for about 5-7 minutes, or until they were tender and the onions were translucent.

As the vegetables were cooking, in another skillet, I seared the pork for about 3 minutes per side until it was crusted over. Get the skillet VERY hot, then add some olive oil and more of the compound butter to cook the pork (you can do the same for either chicken or steak too, just adjust the cooking times as needed).

Once the pork has a nice crust all around, place it in an oven at about 375-400*F for about 15-20 minutes, or until the pork is completely cooked, with an internal temperature of about 160-165*F.

When the pork is finished cooking, top it with the vegetables and sauce. I served this with roasted potatoes on the side, with a glass or two of chilled white wine. !Delicioso!

Just because I am at home now, it does not man I can’t still enjoy the flavors of Mexico. The beauty of cooking international styled foods is that you can still be on vacation even from the comforts of your own home and kitchen, any time. You don’t have to wait for vacation time to come around. You can recreate you vacation anytime you like in the comfort of your own kitchen. 🙂

Have a great day and make everyday great. Stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – The Laughing Gulls

As you all know, I love my birds and animals in general. So I am always taking pictures of them. Some of the birds we saw a lot were the Laughing Gulls. After clicking a few shots, it was easy to see how they got their name. Yes, they really do look like they are laughing and having a good time.

They come in black and white, and gray and white, with quite a few variations.

Laughter is the best medicine for whatever ails you. Even the birds seem to know this. So laugh and laugh yourself well again.

Mariachis At La Choza

I love hearing the traditional music of the mariachis, with the blendings of vocals, violins, horns, guitars and guitarrons. Mariachi music is a blend of European and Native music, as well from the African and Mestizo music and has been a part of the Mexican musical tradition since around 1519, when the Europeans first landed in what is now Mexico. The mariachi is native to a region of western Mexico that includes what are today the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Michoacán, and Colima; extending as far north as Sinaloa and Durango and as far south as Guerrero. Despite frequent attempts to attribute it to a specific state or town, the exact birthplace of the mariachi remains unknown.

The mariachi band contains the following parts: the violins and vocals are the top voice, the rhythm section is the harmony, and the guitarrón is the bass (like the baroque “basso continue”). The traditional mariachi has six to eight violins, two to three trumpets, one vihuela, one guitar, and one guitarrón. Mariachis became the symbol of Mexican unity, and Mexico City became a popular site for mariachi performances. Influential people provided opportunities for the mariachis to perform.

The singer of this band had a very rich and strong voice. The whole band sounded magnificent. !Que Bueno!

Early mariachis wore peasant garb and had little concern for dressing alike. After the Revolution of 1910, however, modest uniforms began to appear. When for the first time mariachis could afford to outfit themselves elegantly, they chose the suit of the horseman or traje de charro. The gala version of this suit worn by contemporary mariachis – with its tightly-fitting ornamented pants, short jacket, embroidered belt, boots, wide bow tie, and sombrero – was once the attire of wealthy hacienda owners.

On our last visit to Cozumel, in 2021, we were introduced to the delicious restaurant La Choza by our amigo/friend and favorite divemaster, Julio. Mas Comidas de Cozumel – 5 La Choza is where the Yucatecan flavors of Mexico are prominently featured on their menu. “When it comes to Yucatecan cuisine there is only one choice, La Choza. Their blend of European flavors mixed with a taste of New Orleans and Cuba combine to create a mouthwatering array of delicious entree’s found nowhere else on the island. Yucatecan food is its own unique style and is very different from what most people would consider “Mexican” food. It includes influences from the local Mayan culture, as well as Caribbean, Mexican, European (French) and Middle Eastern cultures “.

Last year, a cab dropped us off at La Choza. This year, we found it all by ourselves just by walking around through the less touristy areas of Cozumel. Because we go there so often, we are very familiar with the lay of hand, and know our way around the island pretty well. The food at La Choza was still scrumptious, but this time were serenated by the music of the mariachis too. We had a delicious dinner with show.

Larry ordered the pork fajitas.

I had the chicken mole.

As to be expected, both were very, very good. La Choza is another one of our favorite restaurants on the island. In fact we like it so much, we recommended it to our new friends Milosch and Maureen, and they loved it too.

Next time you are in Cozumel, you definitely don’t want to miss out on this unique Yucatecan culinary experience. And you just might get lucky enough to hear the mariachis too. La Choza is located at 10 Avenida Nte. # 216, Centro, 77600 San Miguel de Cozumel, Q.R., Mexico. They are open until 9:00 PM. There is no need to call, though you can if you like, at  +52 987 872 0958.

Mantente a salvo y mantente bien. Hasta la próxima or stay safe and stay well. ‘Til next time.

Nature Walks – Splish Splash

We see these black water birds all the time, everywhere we go in the Caribbean, and up until now, I never knew what the were. But now I do. They are Great-tailed Grackles. This one bird was just having so much fun splashing around in the wading pool. He was just begging for me to take a series of pictures of him. So I did. 🙂

And at the end, he was very proud of himself and was strutting his stuff.

Life is short. Have fun and play. Sometimes, you just have to make some splashes too.

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