Nana’s Recipes: Gingerbread!

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It seems like the weather may want to cool off these next few days. Sure the highs here in the Houston area will be in the 70s, but the nights will be in the 40s – kind of like parts of Oregon in August, ha! But since we’re creeping ever closer to Christmas and another big gathering with family and friends, I thought I’d pass on a very very tasty gingerbread recipe. The grandkids and I made some gingerbread cookies with this recipe over the weekend, and my goal of losing 10 pounds this year might have suffered some damage (only 15 pounds to go!). Anyhow, I found a great old-fashioned gingerbread recipe and here’s what you’ll need:

  • half cup of margarine
  • half cup of sugar
  • half cup of molasses
  • one egg yolk
  • 2 cups of sifted flower
  • half tsp of salt
  • one tsp baking powder
  • one tsp cinnamon
  • two tsp pumpkin spice
  • one tsp cloves
  • one cup hot water

Now, you may not have all this stuff, I certainly didn’t have any molasses on hand, but the grandkids pointed out that maple syrup is practically molasses so we used that. And it worked! So substitute what you have with what you need and make this recipe your own. It’s a very simple recipe, after all.

Put the butter, sugar, molasses/syrup and egg in a bowl and mix together while the oven is pre-heating to 350. Next, and in another bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger, pumpkin spice, cloves, salt, and cinnamon. Pour the sifted mixture in with the butter/sugar/syrup/egg mixture and add the hot water. Stir, and then pour into a buttered pan. Let it bake for an hour and poke it with a toothpick. When the toothpick comes out clean and dry, your gingerbread is finished!

Now comes the hard part… you need to let it cool in the pan before you start cutting it up and eating it. This drives the grandkids crazy because it smells AMAZING!

Nana’s Recipes: Hot Toddies for Sore Throats

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Well folks, it’s that time of year you know. That special season when Texas REALLY still wants it to be summer, but winter peeks it’s nosy nose in our summery business so many times that we end up tanning one week and freezing the next! Ah autumn in Texas is truly a fickle affair. The end result, of course, is it becomes sore throat season. With all the pressure and temperature changes, plus adding in oak molting season, and the occasional camp fire when you can find a spot in non-fire restricted counties…it makes this time of year  Hot Toddy Season!

My grandfather used to swear by a small sip of bourbon with honey in it when his throat got achy. My grandmother of course used to say how funny she thought it was that he had a sore throat every night of his adult life! All joking aside, there’s something absolutely wonderful about a hot toddy when you’re feeling under the weather. It’s almost undefinable, like that bowl of chicken soup when you’re sick. Needless to say there are all kinds of recipes, the recipe in the photo at the top of this blog comes from the 1940’s and you’re welcome to try it. As a matter of fact please do! The recipe we’re going to use for today’s blog is an attempt to make a wonderful drink into useful medicine, so here’s what you’ll need:

  • a bag of your favorite herbal tea
  • 1 tbsp of your favorite honey
  • a shot of your favorite bourbon
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • oh yeah, you’ll need some hot water as well!

So relief is as easy as bringing the water to a boil, letting your tea bag steep for 10-15 minutes, adding in the honey and stirring, then adding the bourbon and squeezing the lemon juice. Sip yourself to feeling awesome! needless to say, enjoy this home remedy AFTER y’all have reached the campsite! And hit us up at PPL for anything you might need!

Nana’s Recipes: Armidale Club Drink

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We’ve done a fair bit of recipes here on the blog. A lot of them are Tex Mex or dishes that are pretty specific to Texas and the Southwest. It dawned on me that we haven’t really done too many drink recipes; we did the Margarita one a few months back, but no real mixed drinks recipes, so I thought today we could talk about a couple very simple drink recipes for a nice sip in the evening after a long hot Texas day. A friend of mine does some fairly extensive international traveling, so I asked him what the best drinks he’s come across while out traveling that’ll work on a hot day or a cold one and here’s what he said:

“Best any day drink? How about one from Australia? Tastes awesome on a hot day and super simple to make.

“A few years ago I was in rural New South Wales and it was “hot as,” which is what the Aussies say, and I visited this old-school social club that looked like it was a time capsule from the late 50’s called The Armidale Club. The staff and locals were very welcoming and after a day or two I felt like a regular. During a slow moment on a Friday night, the bar manager asked me to make up a name and she’d invent a drink around it so I said, “Bulgarian Motorboat” and the next thing I knew I was drinking this amazingly awesome warm weather drink! She showed me how to make it so I could have them when I was back home and think of Armidale, Australia. Here’s how you do it:

  • a shot of Honey Bourbon
  • a shot of Butterscotch Schnapps
  • add a dash or two of bitters, and pour over ice
  • garnish with a lemon rind
  • use a splash of water to thin it down if it’s too thick for your taste

“It tasted so good, when I walked through the door there was a Motorboat waiting on the counter about 5 minutes later, and it ended up on the menu!”

Needless to say, drink responsibly. I’ve tried this drink while watching the sunset out at Matagorda and I can sure tell you it’s a great sundowner! Visit us at the website and allow us to help you with any parts or accessories you may need!

Nana’s Recipes: Skillet Burgers!

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Ever notice there was a subtle change, probably back in the 1980’s, from “weather man” to “meteorologist”? Like putting “-ologist” at the end would make us think they actually knew how hot or cold it was going to be tomorrow. And besides, they don’t study meteors. The point of my little rant is this: WHERE THE HECK IS AUTUMN, Y’ALL? We’ve had no rain, a bunch of wildfires, and record setting heat this October, but in the spirit of “build it and they will come,” today I am going to tell you folks about one of my favorite fall meals in the RV: grilling a burger in a skillet!

To me these taste better than the finest dive bar/greasy spoon/bowling alley hamburgers you’ve ever eaten. Why? Because you put all that stuff in that you like! Here’s what you do:

Put a for-real, old-school, like-your-grandma-used-to-have IRON skillet on the stove and set over medium heat. Slap a pat of butter on that skillet. While the skillet heats up, grab yourself a hunk of ground sirloin and make a hamburger patty. I like to add black pepper and cumin to mine, and try to make the patty about the size of your hamburger buns. Once the butter has melted down and the skillet is up to temperature, toss the hamburger buns onto the skillet face down to toast (doesn’t take very long so keep an eye out). Once the buns are toasted, slap that patty on the skillet and let one side sear for 5-10 seconds before flipping the burger to sear the other side. Then let cook in the normal way to the level of done-ness you prefer. If you want fries with that, you probably should have started baking some Ore-Ida fries in the over about 15 minutes before you started on the hamburger. If you want potato chips with that, as luck would have it it only takes a second to open a bag! Once the patty is cooked how you like it,  place it on a plate with a paper towel on it and pat the excess grease off. This way the bun doesn’t soak it all up and get REAL messy! Add condiments, and chow down! You’re welcome! Now go take a nap!

Nana’s Recipes: Mint Chocolate Hot Toddy

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Well y’all, I feel like I might need to give ol’ Mother Nature a swift kick what with summer overstaying its welcome and all. So after drinking one of these by the campfire out at Matagorda over the weekend, it was just too good not to share… and maybe Mother Nature will pay heed and send us firmly into fall. Finally.

So here is an awesome drink to have out by the campsite. Just imagine a clear night and the stars are out doing their twinkly business. Maybe you still have some crickets, maybe it’s still warm enough for tree frogs, but either way there is some sort of wonderful night music of the animal kind. You’ve gathered together a few good friends maybe even some of the family member you enjoy being around, and y’all have all enjoyed your day and now it’s time to set awhile and relax. The evening is crisp, the fire is snapping away and somebody brings you a warm mug of THIS: a mint chocolate hot toddy! Holy moly y’all, this is what cool evenings were invented for!! It’s like a 21 and over Blue Bell drink! Here’s what you need:

  • a packet of regular old hot cocoa
  • water or milk, however you like it, 6oz or so
  • an ounce of your favorite Irish Cream
  • an ounce of your favorite Peppermint Schnapps
  • those little marshmallows if that’s your thing
  • a cinnamon stick if that’s your thing, or a pinch of cinnamon powder

Make the cocoa the way you usually do, then stir in the rest. If you like that fall spice flavor, add the cinnamon! This stuff is so easy to make it’s ridiculous. Now all you need to do is sit awhile, enjoy your evening, warm your hands on the mug, and warm your insides with the drink. 100% win, all ’round!


Nana’s Recipes: BBQ Sauce

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As a mighty proud native Texan, I sing the praises of this place and what we’re about near every day. One of those things I feel all us Texans can feel justifiably proud of is the exceptional quality, and variety, of BBQ we have on offer here in the Lone Star state. Some of you newcomers may have not realized yet, but BBQ used to have a fairly regionalized flavor, from the mesquite-soaked meals down in South Texas to the sauce slathered plates over in the piney woods. But today I’m gonna give y’all one of my favorites styles of Pure Texas BBQ Sauce.

Some folks feel that true Texas BBQ sauce should be painted on with a brush and not shaken out of a bottle, so this recipe is for thick ‘n spicy sauce! You’ll need the following:

  • a can of beef broth
  • one tbsp of  Worcestershire sauce
  • one tbsp soy sauce
  • quarter cup of mustard
  • half cup of molasses
  • a couple tbs of sugar
  • a beef cube
  • a tsp thyme
  • a tsp of sage
  • a tsp each of salt and pepper
  • two tsps chili powder
  • a tsp of red pepper flakes
  • a tsp each of parsley and paprika
  • a tsp of seasoning salt
  • 2 tbsp of onion powder
  • a couple tsp of garlic powder
  • a quarter cup of apple cider vinegar
  • a can of tomato past
  • for a smoky flavor, add a tbsp of liquid smoke

It sounds like a lot, but it is very simple to make once you have gathered and measured out all the ingredients. First, add the tomato paste and all the liquid ingredients into the pot and stir it briskly to blend it all together. Then add in the rest of the ingredients as you stir. Simmer if on low heat for an hour and a half or so, and then taste. You can tweak the flavor to suit at this point. If you prefer a sweeter sauce, add some sugar. If it’s too thick for your tastes, add a little beer to thin it out. Just remember, when you’re adding changes, make them very small. Stir them in and then re-taste.

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Nana’s Recipes: Spaghetti Fra Diavolo

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One thing that we all seem to have in common, is almost every family has a spaghetti night. It’s one of those staple meals that are so quick and easy, and no doubt every family has their own version. Well since we’re in Texas, I thought we could go over a spicy marinara sauce called Fra Diavolo (Brother Devil). There’s just something special about adding that little zing to a meal, so here we go!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Basil leaves
  • Mint leaves
  • fresh Parsley
  • garlic
  • red pepper flakes
  • tomato puree
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • olive oil

You’ll cook the pasta in the usual way: Fill a pot with water, add a couple teaspoons of salt, and bring to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook for five or six minutes, until the spaghetti is almost al dente. While the pasta is cooking you can whip the sauce together. Add two thirds cup of olive oil to a sauce pan on medium heat, and after the oil is heated add very thin sliced garlic (to taste) and stir often. When the garlic is almost that awesome french fry color, add a teaspoon or so of red pepper flakes and stir. Add two and a half cups of tomato puree and stir. Let that mixture cook for five to ten minutes. Stir occasionally and pay attention to when the olive oil begins to separate from the puree, at that point add the chopped herbs: half cup of basil, quarter cup of mint, quarter cup of parsley, and half teaspoon or so of black pepper. Mix the herbs in then add the pasta and stir together. Reduce the heat to low and let the pasta cook in the sauce for another three or four minutes…then EAT! Add cheese if you like or whatever seasoning you enjoy.

Nana’s Recipes: Pineapple Salsa

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I had the most delicious meal the other day at a Tex Mex restaurant in Austin, grilled Tilapia with Pineapple Salsa. I already know how to grill the heck out of tilapia, but I’ve never tried making pineapple salsa until now.

Last weekend I came up with a version that’s not quite the way the folks in Austin made it, but it’s pretty good in its own right so I thought I’d share it! There’s just something about eating fresh fish with a spicy, citrusy topping that for whatever reason makes me feel like I’m on vacation in the Caribbean or Hawaii. There’s nothing better than good food that’ll take your taste buds on a trip somewhere where the water is blue, the jungle is green, and the beach is white! A “vacation in a bowl” I always say. But enough of that, let’s get to cooking!

Here’s what you’re going to need:

  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 2 tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • 1 fresh jalapeno
  • 1 red onion
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic

First you need to chop two cups worth of pineapple, chop both tomatoes, chop the jalapeno and keep the seeds in for that extra zing, chop the cilantro, garlic and onion as well. Get yourself a decent sized bowl and put two cups of pineapple, both tomatoes, the jalapeno, about a quarter cup of the cilantro, about three quarters of a cup of the chopped onion, add a a half teaspoon of the garlic, a half teaspoon of salt, three quarter teaspoon of cumin, and a tablespoon of olive oil and mix together. We’re looking for a more Pico De Gallo style chunkiness than a restaurant salsa blended texture. Needless to say, serve this up with corn chips, top your fish or chicken with it, and serve with Mexican beer or a pitcher of margaritas and it’ll be the life of the party!

Nana’s Recipes: Sopapillas!

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Oh my Lord, these are good. You ever eat something when you were a kid and that something sticks with you for the rest of your life? Me and sopapillas? We go way back.

One of the greatest things about this RV lifestyle is that with travel, you get to experience the regional differences in food. For example, salsa in Arizona and California is completely different to salsa in Texas, and salsa in New Mexico is different to everybody else. The point of the salsa talk is this: after eating a (hopefully) spicy Mexican meal, I like to chase it with something a little sweet, and there ain’t a much better “little sweet” than sopapillas!  Some of the best dang sopapillas I ever put in my mouth were at the Village Cafe in Santa Fe, NM, and at Borrego de Oro in Austin, TX, by the way.

So I decided to try and make some sopapillas in my RV kitchen and what I discovered rather quickly is that (especially if you’re good and lazy and want a clean kitchen) you can make sopapillas without a deep fryer! Technically they’re not the same, but they’ll do.

Here’s what you need to have: a puff pastry sheet (your favorite brand is OK), cinnamon, sugar, and honey.

Here’s what you need to do: unthaw that puff pastry sheet and unroll it onto a lightly floured surface. Once it’s all flattened out, cut it into squares or triangles of about 2-3 inches in size and arrange them on a non-stick baking sheet. Oh! While you’re doing that, have your oven pre-heating to 400. Next, grab a bowl and put three quarters of a cup of sugar in as well as a tablespoon of cinnamon and stir them together. Once the oven comes up to temp, throw the baking sheet in for 12-15 minutes and remove when they’re that super fattening golden brown color. Take each piece off the tray and roll em around int he sugar/cinnamon bowl until they’re coated and set them on a plate.

Drip some honey on them when you’re ready to eat and don’t forget to work out tomorrow!


Nana’s Recipes: Chicken Posole with Hatch Green Chiles

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Hatch, New Mexico, is a tiny village of slightly more than 1500 souls located on the Rio Grande in south central New Mexico 40 miles north of Las Cruces, NM on I-25. It had been settled since the 1850’s when it was originally named Santa Barbara, but was re-named Hatch in the 1870’s after a famous Indian fighter who happened to command the Military District. Now it is a sleepy village famous world-wide for it’s chiles, specifically it’s green chiles. Hatch Green Chiles have become almost a fad over the last couple years with even Whataburger offering Green Chile Cheeseburgers. A few years ago if you wanted a Green Chile Cheeseburger, you had to go to Sparky’s BBQ in Hatch! And if you find yourself in the area, make sure to swing through Hatch on Labor Day Weekend for the Chile Festival. But more to the point today we’re going to discuss a very New Mexico flavored bowl full of happiness called “Chicken Posole with Hatch Green Chiles”

What you need to do is cube up some chicken thighs (use however much you reckon will feed the folks you’re cooking for) and put them in a bowl. Salt the chicken cubes, sprinkle with cumin (to taste), dried chile flakes, and black pepper and let the chicken sit while you’re preparing everything else. As a side note, there is no right or wrong on the seasoning, just season to your taste… or your guests’ taste!

While the chicken is soaking up the pepper and cumin, drain a can or two of Hatch green chiles and throw them into a blender with some cilantro and a chopped clove of garlic and puree.

Next put a quart or so of veggie broth in a stew pot and set to low-medium heat.  Add hominy, pour in the blended Hatch green chile mix, chop up a couple of green onions and add them to the pot as well.

In a separate sauce pan, cook the chicken cubes as you would fajitas: i.e. throw em in the pan with the burner on med-high and keep the chicken pieces moving while they cook in their own juices. The chicken will cook fairly quickly so keep your eyes open and keep turning the chicken so it cooks on all sides.

Once the chicken is cooked all the way through, pour the chicken bits and the juice into the stew pot and stir together. Serve with chips and salsa, and some sort of wonderful beer from Mexico, preferably on a hot day. Or a cold one. Or those regular ones we seem to have too few of! – We love you.