Speckle Butter Beans, Country Style Recipe

Summer’s Enjoyment

Nothing says summer like fresh butter beans and around these parts, the speckled variety does rather well in our hot, humid climate. Now I know these are not available in all areas as I have for years had many of you write me asking where on earth could you find these wonderful gems. My answer many times depending on your locale, is either the farmer’s market when in season or in your grocers freezer. Yup, I have enjoyed many winter meals doing just that. There are many companies that package and distribute speckle butter beans so if your grocer does not carry it, tell them to get off their behiney and get to ordering. Once word gets out you better be the first in line, ’cause these will sell out faster than greased lighting.


Country Style Speckle Butter Beans
about 6 servings

1 pound fresh, shelled speckled butter beans (use frozen during the winter)
1 piece smoked turkey or pork meat
1 small white onion, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 garlic toe, minced
1 bay leaf or 1/4 teaspoon bay leaf powder
1 spring of fresh thyme or about 1/2 teaspoon
2 cups chicken stock
2 small vine-ripe tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, sliced

In a medium saucepan over medium high heat, add the chicken stock along with 2 cups water. Add the smoked meat, chopped onion and bell pepper, garlic, bay leaf and thyme. Add desired salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer on medium heat with lid partially covered for about 20 minutes. Make sure liquid does not evaporate adding more if needed.

Add the butter beans and add water or stock to cover well, at least by 1/2-inch. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for about an hour or until the bean is creamy on the inside but still intact; do not overcook to mush. As stated in another recipe, I like to turn off the heat and allow beans to set in the pot-licker while finishing other parts of the meal.

Right before serving, pour off most of the liquid and stir in the tomatoes and green onions. Serve using a slotted spoon along side fresh, hot cornbread or muffins.

Note: Like many fresh beans, speckled butter beans enjoy cooking in a good amount of liquid.

Baked Catfish Fillets with Mushroom Sauce

left-over serving with sauce
~  Gone Fishing ~

Folks, excuse my absence. I have not given up cooking nor have I given up sharing our love of southern foods. Like so many things in life, when we change our ways we are forced to change our habits, all for the good of course. Unfortunately, some things get left out like my love of spending time with you. These past months have been probably the busiest in many years, at work and at home, and I do so miss the times shared with so many of you. Hope to get back in the groove soon. But for now, I’m taking a much needed break and heading down to south Florida for relaxation.

In the mean time, here is a nice little ditty of a recipe for preparing fish filets without an overwhelming amount of calories added. It’s easy and the bonus is that it is very flavorful and delicious. Enjoy!

Catfish Fillets with Mushroom Sauce
recipe halved for photos

6 servings

4 tablespoons margarine, divided
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
6 -6 oz catfish fillets (or another mild white fish)
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoon salt-free Creole seasoning
16 oz fresh sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup white wine (vermouth)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried seasoning medley of choice (thyme, parsley, marjoram)
1/4 cup green onions, white part only
1/4 cup sliced green onion tops

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large 3 or 4 quart baker, add 2 tablespoons margarine, 2 tablespoons olive oil, butter and the lemon juice. Heat in oven until butter melts; stir to mix. Dip each fillet into the mixture coating well and arrange in the pan. Sprinkle the fillets with the Creole seasoning.

Bake for 25 minutes or until flakes easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, prepare the mushroom sauce: In a large skillet, melt remaining margarine and olive oil over medium high heat. Add the mushroom and stir rapidly to coat. Cook about 5 minutes and or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add the chicken stock, wine and flavor with the salt, pepper and seasonings. Allow liquid to reduce in half. Add the white part of onions and reduce down until liquid barely covers mushrooms. Reduce heat to low and wait for fish to finish cooking. Top with green onions just prior to serving.

To plate, add a fillet to fish platter and top with mushroom sauce. Be sure to distribute liquid sauce among the platters; it is so good to sop with French bread.

Grilled Dijon Chicken with Lemon Herb Sop

Moist, tender and flavorful – almost healthy!

It has always interested me from where foodstuff comes. The main element of the marinade for this grilled chicken recipe is without exception. Dijon mustard appeared in the south as did many other condiments and spices, by way of the French settlers in the early 1700’s. And like so many good things from Europe, it comes from Monks, of the Catholic faith. The church brought us this fine grained mustard from the area of St. Germain des Pres in 10th century for all to enjoy, though, I suspect it was for profit. By the 13th century, Dijon France became the dominating source for this luxurious mustard type.

Now, I started this recipe post with the words almost healthy because it is almost fat free with the exception of what little fat remains on the chicken after grilling. With the skin removed, we give up a heck of fat calories and some would say flavor too. But, I think this sop makes up for the missing flavor, and calories. I know it sure made me feel better about eating it. Enjoy!

Grilled Dijon Chicken with Lemon Herb Sop
serves 4

4 large bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard with wine
1 tablespoon whole grain Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons Montreal chicken seasoning (25% less sodium)
1/4 cup margarine
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons water
2 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon crushed dried thyme

Mix the two mustard together along with the pepper. Rub all over the chicken breast. Season with the Montreal seasoning. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove chicken and allow to set about 15 minutes before grilling.

Make the sop by combining remaining ingredients in a small saucepan. Bring to a simmer and remove from heat. Use this sop on the chicken the latter part of grilling or at the first notice that the surface is drying out. If you run out of sop before chicken is ready, it’s okay. The sop is meant to seal in the juices as well as add flavor.

Heat grill to 325 degrees and slow cook the chicken on the cooler side of the heat source. I moved the chicken over to the heat from time to time as I basted. Cooking time was about 1:30 hrs. to reach the internal temp of 165 degrees F.

Chipotle Grilled Ribs with Citrus Pepper Salsa

  • rib tail-end smothered in Citrus Pepper Salsa
  • one rib is topped with tomatillo salsa too

Recipe for grilling pork ribs, Mexican style.

Folks, this recipe will knock your socks off. Well, around these parts, and this time of year y’all know we’re barefooted anyway so I guess you can say, “it already did.”

Now, by no means is this to endorse any product. It is what it is. But have any of you tried the pepper sauce from Tabasco made with vine-ripened, red jalapeño peppers smoked over a smoldering fire? It’s a rich, thick-bodied sauce ideally balanced in heat and flavor. Prized in ancient Mexican civilizations, even before the time of the Aztecs, the chipotle pepper is known for its dark, smoky flavor. It’s a natural for barbeque foods and sauces. Get a coupon here.

I know you will like the way it helps bring out the smoky flavors of grilled ribs. Here’s the recipe from my house this past weekend. Enjoy!

Chipotle Grilled Ribs with Citrus Pepper Salsa
serves 4 hungry folks

For Two -3 1/2 to 4 pounds pork ribs (I used St. Louis cut)

for the Rub:
1/4 cup paprika
1/4 cup ground ancho chiles – or chile powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 tablespoon granulated onion

for the Mop:
4 garlic cloves, chopped garlic
1 large green mild chile, stemmed and seeded
2 tomatillos, washed and quartered
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper sauce
1/2 cup vinegar
1/4 cup, freshly squeezed lime juice
Juice of 2 large oranges
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup nectarine juice
1/2 cup native honey

for the Citrus Pepper Salsa:
2 tomatillos, washed and quartered
1 large green hot chile, stemmed and seeded
4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
3 tablespoons Tabasco Chipotle Pepper sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 ground oregano
3 cloves garlic, minces
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 large lime
Juice of 1/2 orange

Prepare the rub by mixing all together in a small bowl.

Sprinkle and rub generously on both sides of each prepped rib. Allow to set for 4 to 6 hours covered in the refrigerator. Remove 1 hour prior to grilling.

Add the chopped vegetables to a medium saucepan.

Add remaining ingredients for the mop to the saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes to soften vegetables. Using the container of your blender, add the mixture and pulse until mostly liquefied. Set aside until ready to grill.

Prepare the Salsa in the same manner. Place all ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for about 5 minutes until vegetables soften. Blend until creamy as desired. I used a hand-held blender and kept some of the veggies in larger bits. Set aside.

Prepare the grill by creating the center or one side with low heat and the outer or opposite side with medium heat. Place the room temperature ribs, bone side down, on the cooler part of the grill. Close the grill lid and cook for about 10 minutes. Rotate ribs and flip placing meaty side down. Cover with lid and cook another 10 minutes. At this time, turn off heat under ribs (or move coals to the outer sides) and begin applying the mop. Always keep lid closed as much as possible. Ideal cooking temperature is around 375 degrees F. Add more briskets if using charcoal.

About every 30 minutes, rotate and flip the rips and apply another generous coating of the mop. Cook the ribs about 2 hours using this method.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

By now, the ribs will be nice and coated with the chipotle pepper mop.

Remove to a non-reactive pan. Add about 1/2 cup or more of water to the bottom of the pan. Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes uncovered or until the water is mostly evaporated. Remove from oven and cover pan with foil. Allow to set for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving with the Citrus Pepper Salsa.

Top with tomatillo salsa or fresh limes and more of the Tabasco Chipotle pepper sauce if desired.

Squash and Tomato Tian

Summer Fresh means Good n’ Healthy

Layered summer vegetables in a casserole is nothing new but in our household, a dish without a sauce or filling, or a vegetable pie without a crust is very much new. Heck, a side dish without butter causes eyebrows to rise with the mere mention of lack of such.

This is a take on an old southern garden favorite featuring the bounty of fresh, summer vegetables without using a crust, any butter or a binder such as mayo or heavy cream. In other words, it is a much healthier option version of a Tomato and Squash Pie and it’s taste is outstanding; a real bonus when you are watching carbs and calories. A classic casserole truer to southern kitchens made a while back melding tomatoes with yellow squash is my Squash and Tomato Wonder. Other pies include  Tomato PieTomato Spinach Pie, Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie and Vidalia Onion Pie.


Healthy Squash and Tomato Tian
serves 4

4 small yellow squash
3 medium vine ripe tomatoes
1 small Vidalia onion
extra virgin olive oil
salt-free seasoning
1 tablespoon minced crisp bacon
2 tablespoon part-skim milk cheese blend

Slice squash, tomatoes and onions uniformly in quarter-inch disks. Lay on double thick paper towels. Lightly sprinkle the top with salt.

Allow to set at least an hour to draw away liquid. Lay another layer of paper towel on top to absorb liquid and wipe away moisture and salt.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large 10-inch pie plate, add enough olive oil to coat bottom. Add layers of squash, onion and tomatoes. Give a light sprinkle of seasoning and add the bacon. Repeat with a second layer of vegetables and seasoning. Drizzle with olive oil. Follow topping with the cheese.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until cheese starts to brown. Serve hot.

Barbecued Chicken Halves – Brine Recipe

A memorial way to enjoy grilled chicken.

Our family’s favorite way to grill chicken is by using whole chickens cut in half sections rather than quarter sections or cut pieces.  Many times it is hard to find chicken halves in the grocers meat counter.  You can always have your butcher cut them in half for you (which means running through a saw) or you can buy whole chickens and do it yourself.  I use a large meat cleaver to whack down each side of the neck bone all the way down removing the tail as well.  This allows me to flatten the chicken a bit so I can make a good cut through the breastplate and thus cutting the bird in half.  Be sure to remove most fat pockets, unless you like a lot of flare-ups during grilling, and excess skin as well.  From here, its up to you rather to apply a brine or a rub, or maybe both as I many times do.

See How to Barbecue Chicken and Poultry

Today, I am using a good seasoned brine (marinade) and will reduce it down for a sop (mop) as well.  It is one I made up as I went along and if you do so too, be sure to get a good acid/salt to water ratio that will pump in the moisture and flavors. After you let it set in the refrigerator a spell, cook it on the grill as you normally do when grilling chicken.  Or you can see my many recipes and techniques I do if you desire.  Enjoy!

Brine for Barbecue Chicken
for 2 chicken halves

 First make a slurry to heat which will intensify the flavors.  Add to a large bowl:
5 garlic toes, sliced
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Spanish or Hungarian paprika
2 teaspoons Sazon Completa (which contains the salt)

1 teaspoon granulated onion
1/4 teaspoon ground bay leaves
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Heat in the microwave for 2 minutes. Stir to mix and add:

2 cups ice water
2 chicken halves placing meat side down.

Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

Remove chicken to a pan meat side up and sprinkle with a light dusting of Sazon Completa. Let chicken set out for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, add the brine to a large saucepan and heat to a boil.  Reduce to low and simmer until liquid reduces to about 2 cups.

Stir in 1/3 cup ketchup (and 1 teaspoon liquid smoke if desired). Allow to simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat.

Use this sop to mop on the chicken as it cooks. Use all of the sop and place the garlic on top the last 10 minutes of cooking if desired.

Roasted Green Beans and Vidalias with Apple Reduction

Perfect Side Dish for Entertaining.

There are so many good side dishes we are enjoying this time of year thanks to just harvested, fresh vegetables. So many of which go well with our favorite pastime; that is time spent on the patio while grilling or barbecuing. This dish along with a good cold, creamy pasta or potato salad, and maybe roasted corn, is about all we need to serve while enjoying our love for outdoor entertaining,

I have made a similar reduction before or a recipe using similar ingredients in a gravy for fried pork chops. This time, I chose to make it (less calorie redux) for a flavorful addition using two of my favorites this time of year: Fresh green beans and Vidalia onions. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans with Sweet Vidalia Onions
and served with a wonderful Southern Apple Reduction
4 servings

1 1/2 pounds fresh green beans, ends trimmed
1/2 Vidalia or sweet onion, sliced into vertical strips
2 garlic toes, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
1 sweet cooking apple, such as Gala, peeled and 1/4-inch diced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1/4 teaspoon sweet paprika
pinch of sugar or Splenda
1 tablespoon margarine
1 tablespoon real bacon bits, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Wash the green beans, pat dry and for ease, cut with kitchen shears into 1 1/2-inch lengths. Place into a bowl along with the onions and garlic. Toss with the olive oil and add a little salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast for about 15 minutes or until beans wilt and begin to roast. Do not let the garlic burn. Remove to a serving dish and keep warm.

Meanwhile, place apple, chicken stock, vinegar, thyme, paprika and Splenda in a small saucepan and heat over medium high. Reduce down to about 1/4-cup; remove from heat and strain sauce into a small bowl mashing the solids with the backside of a spoon to render as much sauce as possible. Discard the solids. Add sauce back to saucepan and reduce to about 2 tablespoons. Add margarine and when heated, remove from heat.

Before serving, drizzle sauce over green beans and sprinkle with bacon bits if desired. Serve immediately.

recipe by +drick perry

Spinach Stuffed Catfish or Tilapia Roll

Uptown Catfish.

Much earlier in time, way back in my youth, as oppose to now-a-days living here in the ‘big’ city, I grew up in a small town atmosphere where life was ever so simple, or so it seemed as a child. I remember, even though we used the term ‘city’ to describe the town, it was not; think along the lines of a metropolis Mayberry. The town’s main commerce pretty much consisted of the central street running from the train depot and underpass to the courthouse up on the hill. Now, down the hill near the depot were many stores including my uncle’s hardware store and across the street was one of our favorite eateries that served many of the townsfolk. I remember several birthday parties there as well as many lunches with Uncle ‘Punch’ and my Grand-daddy ‘Cotton’. This area of course was known as downtown. And, up on the hill, near the courthouse and county’s governing seat was another uncle’s storefront and across from that, a corner eatery where I too enjoyed many lunchtime meals. This of course was called uptown and there were storefronts lining the street there too, but also many lawyers and ‘uptown’ folks. And right dab in the center, conveniently located for everyone was the local bank. Now I must mention that to get from downtown to uptown took all of five minutes; walking that is. It was much faster in a car, including being held up at the stop-lights.

I also remember pretty much everyone in the city eating fish on Friday’s. I am not for sure why, it wasn’t because of religion, not that we were not a religious town, just not Catholic. Grandmother normally served bream like bluegill or shellcracker, or what-ever had been caught and stored in the freezer. Momma liked the newfangled fish-sticks. At the restaurants we enjoyed catfish and most always it was prepared fried. I suspect if we ever saw anyone serving poached or broiled fish, why, we would probably think they done gone ‘uptown’.

This recipe is actually a really healthy option and you can prepare it any day of the week, not just on Fridays. Each serving contains only about 9 carbs and if you use tilapia, you can cut it down to about 4 carbs per serving. Enjoy!

Catfish and Spinach Roll
4 servings (or halve the recipe as I did for 2)

4 catfish fillets (about 4 oz ea)
1 cup skim milk
1 teaspoon olive oil
3 garlic toes, minced
1/4 cup diced green bell pepper
11 oz package fresh baby spinach
1 teaspoon wine vinegar (I used O Pinot Noir)
Salt-free seasoning (like Mrs. Dash) or seasoning to taste (I also like whole-grain mustard here too)
fresh black pepper to taste
4 oz low-fat feta cheese, cut into 4 pieces

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a dish for baking by oiling with extra light olive oil.

Soak the fish fillets in the milk for at least an hour in the refrigerator, not more that three.

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the garlic until fragrant. Add the bell pepper and cook to soften. Add the spinach and cook stirring occasionally until spinach is just wilted. Remove from heat and sprinkle with the wine vinegar and salt-free seasoning. Toss to mix flavors.

Drain milk from fillets and pat dry with paper towels. Place one fillet in baking dish and lightly sprinkle with pepper. Add a slice of cheese in the center and add one-fourth of the spinach mixture on top of the cheese. Roll up the fillet and secure with a toothpick. Place seam side down in dish and repeat until finished rolling all fillets.

Bake in the oven about 20 minutes or until flesh is tested done with a fork. The fish should be firm all the way through and flakes easily with the fork. Remove and garnish with lemon. I like to plate and add a squeeze of lemon over the fish.

Afterthought: Why soak in milk? It’s like saying “yes ma’am” to the ladies, I mean, it’s just the way I was taught. I was told it made catfish ‘sweeter’ and truth-be-known, buttermilk is the norm.

Sautéed Spinach

Stewed, Sautéed or Wilted, it all taste good.

This is a very easy recipe that I like to make, not only because is it low in fat and calories, but also ’cause it is so darn tasty. Yes, as you read it, it does have a smidgen of butter, but ya gotta use it if you want the spinach to absorb and pick up the essence of this recipe, and that is the wonderful simple, yet fantastic flavors.

Now you can trim the ends of spinach if you like; I know, it makes for one fine, silky tasting experience, but I do not at times, it does not bother me one bit. And for the best ever taste, cook this right before serving, dishing it right out of the skillet while steaming hot and not covering it with a lid as doing so causes it to wilt even more, at it did for me last night as I finished another dish. However, wilting it down so didn’t change the taste one bit. Enjoy! 

Sautéed Spinach
about 4 servings

1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon butter
1/2 onion, chopped
2 or 3 sweet red mini peppers, sliced or 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic toes, smashed and diced
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 pound baby spinach, washed and patted dry
seasoning blend to taste (I use Badia complete)

In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the onion until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Add the mini sweet peppers and garlic and saute for 1 minute. Stir in the vinegar and mustard.

Increase heat to medium high. Add the spinach and saute until it wilts down just a bit, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat and season to taste. Stir to fully incorporate. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm but doing so will result in something like stewed spinach.

Southern Stir-Fry Vegetables

Complete all-in-one meal that satisfies.

Good any time of the year and especially when vegetables are young and tender, garden fresh, this recipe is so easy, so good and affordable too. Most items are in the ‘fridge and pantry anyway so there should not be too much to add to your shopping list. Chocked full of flavor and vitamins, this recipe is not to bad in carbs if you use turkey sausage and margarine, that is, compared to my original way.

This meal comes together really fast once you get to cooking so it is important to have vegetables and sausage sliced and ready before starting to cook. It is also important to have vegetables cut in uniform size so each cooks just right.


Southern Stir-Fry Vegetables
A very satisfying plate of fresh vegetables with good ol’ Southern flavor.
2 large meal servings or 4 sides

1/2 pound smoked Conecuh (mild or spicy) sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices – or use turkey sausage to reduce fat
1 to 2 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1 cup trimmed green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 large carrot, sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup sliced onion
1/3 cup sliced bell pepper
1/4 cup sliced mini sweet peppers
2 medium yellow squash, sliced
salt, pepper, garlic seasoning blend
2 cups chopped fresh green collards, turnips or cabbage
1 cup broccoli florets
2 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
2 tablespoons dry white wine or flavored vinegar
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, optional

Heat wok or large skillet over medium high heat (or 375-degree F. if using electric) and cook the sausage stirring all while until brown on both sides. Remove to drain on a paper lined plate and wipe wok with a paper towel.

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and when hot, add the green beans and carrot. Toss and cook 1 minute. Stir in the celery, onion, peppers, squash and seasoning mixture. Toss and cook about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage and additional oil if needed; cook stirring for another minute. Add the broccoli and cook tossing for another minute.

Add the chicken stock, wine and butter. Toss and continue to stir lifting from bottom cooking another 2 minutes or until vegetable are crisp tender.

Serve immediately.