Green Chicken Tamales

June 24th, 2017

Now that summer is here, as are the daily rain storms, the bananas are growing like mad.  Which means, of course, time for tamales.  Tamales are an act of love.  They are time consuming, and unless you have a “crew” like they do in Mexico, take quite a long time to prepare, if you do things the right way.  I prefer to add all the flavor I can wring out of my ingredients, so I do things like render the fat to use in the masa dough, as well as make my own stock to moisten the masa.

The great thing is, as we found out a few weeks ago from our Cub Scout Pack Leader Extaordinaire, that GFS (restaurant supply type store) marks down their already super-reasonable fresh meats, as the package approaches its use-by date.  They toss them in the freezer, where you can save between 50 & 75% off of the already-reasonable prices.  Mr. BG picked up six family packs of chicken (bone in, skin on) breasts and thighs, all between 4 – 5 lbs, for $2.00 to $2.50, per package, the other day!  Straight into the freezer they went, for all kinds of wonderful dishes, chicken & dumplings, chicken noodle soup, lime garlic chicken, etc.  So, since I had a plethora of chicken, and beaucoup banana leaves*, I decided to do a huge batch of tamales.  A quick trip to Save-A-Lot for the sometimes difficult-to-find produce, and I am in business!  One more quick trip to the backyard, to whack the banana trees….and I’m ready to cook!

Tamale fixings: Banana Leaves, Poblano & Jalepeno Chiles, Tomatillos, Vidalia Onions, and Limes

INGREDIENTS:  2 Family Packages Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken Thighs; 7 large Poblano Chiles; 6 Jalepeno Chiles; 1 lb. Tomatillos; 4 large or 7 small Onions; 6 Large Cloves Garlic; 10 cups MaSeCa (masa harina); Cumin; 3 tbsp. Badia Adobo Powder; 2 Carrots, 2 Celery Stalks, Chicken Base; Mexican Oregano; Salt & Pepper.

Remove the skin and extra fat from the chicken thighs.  Reserve.  Sprinkle the thighs, front and back, with Badia Adobo powder, and add pepper (if your Adobo powder is the kind without pepper…if it has pepper, skip the extra pepper).  Cover and refrigerate.  In a large skillet, on medium low heat, render all of the fat out of the chicken skins/fat.  I use a 12″ skillet and a 10″ lid to keep the skins in contact with the pan.  As the skin renders out, pour off the rendered fat into a measuring cup, and remove the crispy skins.  Repeat until you’ve rendered all of the chicken skins.  This step takes quite a while.  Don’t burn the skins (or fat)!  Reserve the rendered chicken fat, and the skins.

Slowly Rendering Chicken Skins

Two Cups of Liquid Gold

Remove the chicken from the refrigerator, to let come closer to room temperature, for at least a half hour.  Prepare your grill (or grill pan) and veggies during this time.  Pre-heat the grill to about 450 degrees (I use gas).  Wash all of the chiles; remove the outside “paper” from the tomatillos, onions (one onion if large, or two if small, leaving on the stem end to hold the onion together), and the garlic cloves; halve the tomatillos, quarter the onion(s), and leave the peeled garlic cloves whole.  Place the onion(s), tomatillos, and garlic on a small, non-stick cookie sheet.  Place the washed chiles in a large bowl.  Now you are ready to grill.

Grill the chicken approximately 10 minutes per side, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, being careful to watch for flare-ups.  Remove from the grill, scrub the grill to remove any stuck-on chicken bits (I use a Grill-Daddy, fantastic tool).

Grilled Chicken

Then put the chiles directly on the heat (if you’re using a gas grill, turn down to medium).  Place the cookie pan full of tomatillos, garlic, and onion on the far side of the grill.  Close the grill, and leave the peppers alone, until they are slightly charred, it usually takes about 3 to 5 minutes per side, depending on the size of the chilis. If you don’t have a grill, you can put the chiles on a pan in the broiler, until they begin to blister, then turn to blister all sides.  You can also roast the tomatillos/onions/garlic in about a 450 degree oven (instead of roasting them on a grill).  You want to get the tomatillos/onion/garlic nice and soft, with a bit of char, not too much.  Remove from the grill when they look like this:

Roasted Onions,Tomatillos, and Garlic

When the poblanos & jalepenos are blistered and a bit charred, place them in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap for about 20 minutes, to let them steam, which will loosen their skins.  Once they are cool enough to handle, remove the skins and seeds (try to rinse the peppers.  See this post for detailed instructions about how to roast chili peppers.

Scorched Poblanos & Jalepenos, Ready to be Covered with Plastic Wrap to Steam for 20 Minutes




Poke Tuna Florida Style

March 16th, 2017

I was gifted with a beautiful big piece of super fresh Yellowfin Tuna today.  I rarely ever cook beautiful tuna, it seems to be a let down from delicious, raw tuna.  So, I looked at a couple of different poke recipes, and picked this and that, and came up with my own.  It was fantastic!

INGREDIENTS:  1 lb. Sushi Grade Ahi Tuna; 6 Thin Scallions, finely sliced, white and tender green parts only; 2 tbsp. Soy Sauce; 1 tsp. Sesame Oil; 1 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds, 1 tsp. Rice Wine Vinegar; 1 tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated; 1/4 Jalapeno pepper, finely diced; 1 tsp. Key Lime Juice.  Note:  You can also add some avocado, or serve in avocado halves, but I skipped that part, because I didn’t have a ripe, gigantic Florida avocado today.

Keep tuna in the refrigerator until the sauce is complete.  Make the sauce. Combine the sliced scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, ginger, chopped jalapeno, and lime juice in a small bowl).  In a small fry pan, toast the sesame seeds until they are a light to medium brown.  Be careful, they go from just toasted perfectly to burnt in five seconds.  When they’re done, pour immediately into the liquid in the bowl.  Sizzle city!  Set aside.  Take the tuna out of the fridge, and dice with a super sharp knife into 1/2″ cubes.  Place in a bowl, and pour over the poke sauce.  Stir carefully to combine.  Give the poke tuna about five minutes in the freezer to get super cold.

Serve on individual pieces of bib lettuce, crackers, or (like me) with a pair of chopsticks.  Share if you can bear it.  Otherwise, eat it all yourself!

OMG! Say What?

November 15th, 2016

It just makes me smile to think of all of the Democrat pundits six months ago, exulting at the prospect of a “civil war” within the Republican party, and yammering on incessantly about what “we” should do. As If.

Because of course, when I have an adversary, the first thing I always do is to contact his or her cohorts for advice. Seriously, how dumb is that?

And now, here are these spectacularly myopic prognosticators, gnashing their teeth and pulling their hair, wondering how they could have been handed such a stunning electoral defeat!?!

The Democrats didn’t win the White House, they didn’t win the Senate, they failed to pick up hardly any seats in the House, they lost governorships, and we are one red-state legislature away from a bullet proof majority to pass a Constitutional Amendment, or four! The Democrats had to fire their National Chair in the middle of their convention, for rigging the primaries, and the interim Chair has been caught with her hand in the cookie jar, feeding debate questions to their candidate. Oh yes, their Candidate, a retread, criminal old hag who couldn’t come up with a campaign slogan that was even coherent. “I’m with Her” fell flat as a pancake, as did, come to think of it, their candidate….trying to climb into her Scooby Van. Hillary’s campaign (and WikiLeaks exposed its soft underbelly) was a complete fiasco, as of course, was Hillary. Too bad, so sad.


AND there is one Donald J. Trump headed for the White House, who has promised to appoint strict constitutional jurists to the Supreme Court, and it looks as if he’ll have the opportunity to appoint at least two, if not more, justices.

The Democrats are in complete disarray, and are now screaming “How Did We Get Here?”  And the best answer they can come up with is “it’s James Comey’s fault.”

Say whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?


The time to drain the fever swamp has begun, at long last.

~ Blonde Gator (with a h/t to matthewdean for kicking me in the butt and getting me blogging again.)

Nothing Else Needs to be Said

July 19th, 2016


Per KHOU, via Facebook.

~ Blonde Gator

Happy 4th of July

July 4th, 2016

My friend Kevin shared this video….which just happens to be the squadron in Germany, with which his father served, many years ago.

What a fabulous tribute to American ingenuity, and the particular joy of being an American.

Happy 4th, all.  Thanks, Kev….and cheers to your Dad, wherever he may be.

~ Blonde Gator


Cops’ Sense of Humor

January 24th, 2016

Well, about noon today, on this very chilly Sunday, we were snuggled in, enjoying ourselves.  And all of a sudden, we heard a cacophony from outside….and then….bagpipes!  Playing “The Minstrel Boy”.  Which, of course, we knew was a funeral dirge.

We looked out the front door, and what to our wondering eyes did appear?  Eight men in kilts, playing bagpipes, and drums, marching down the street.  They stopped in front of our neighbor’s home, Mike, the retired NYC cop.  I feared the worst.

Mikes Procession

They played another song, with many neighbors emerging from their homes to watch.  Then they turned and marched back up the street.  I heard them tell my neighbor John “his 65th birthday”….as they were discussing which bar to visit for lunch and a few little cold boat drinks.

Bag Pipes

As I said, a strange sense of humor!!!  But it was an amazing sight, and sound, for a cold Sunday.

All’s well that ends well.  Happy Birthday, Mike!

~ Blonde Gator

An Afternoon Break at the Beach

December 30th, 2015

Today we took Mason over to the beach in the late afternoon, to fly his birthday sea-turtle kite.

Mason with his Birthday Kite

Mason with his Birthday Kite

It was a beautiful afternoon, warm with a soft breeze (at the house).  The breezes at the beach were substantial, a mere quarter mile away.  And rather crowded at 4 p.m.  But we put Mason’s new kite together, and ventured out to the beach.  “Our Beach” is a local kite-surfers’ hang-out on windy days like today.  I recognized an old friend’s 1970 green & white K5 Blazer in the parking lot, alas, I never saw him.

Breezy Afternoon at the Beach

Breezy Afternoon at the Beach

The kite flew like a champ, immediately upon taking it out of the packaging.  It was, in fact, quite beautiful, and we heard many people surrounding us commenting about how lovely it was.  Its little front flippers flapped in the wind, appearing to try to swim through the sky.  As a point of reference, the kite’s tail is at least twelve feet long, the kite is approximately 40″.    Gorgeous!

The Sea Turtle Swims in the Sky

The Sea Turtle Swims in the Sky

Mason did a great job, flying his kite for the very first time.  He thinks the kite surfing looks like something fun to try when he gets older, as well.

Flying a Kite for the First Time

Flying a Kite for the First Time

After we were done kite-flying, Mason had a quick dip in the ocean.  It was rather choppy, with a swift current running south to north, so I bird-dogged him as he played in the waves.  He’s becoming a pretty good swimmer, so I was pleased.  I really didn’t want to have to dive in after him if he got in trouble, as I was wearing a dress!  As they say, all’s well that ends well, and after Mason had a quick in-and-out of the beach-side shower, we hopped in the XTerra and drove home.   Another happy day in the books.

~ Blonde Gator

Meanwhile, at Lake Alice

November 19th, 2015

All of my fellow Gators will know all about Lake Alice.

For those of you who are not UF alums, Lake Alice is a favorite spot on the University of Florida campus.

Although this is just a little guy, I can’t believe these people got so close to him while taking pictures, and I totally flipped my lid when the young lady asks the guy taking the video to “please grab my phone”.  WTH?

Anyhoo, we DO love our gators.  All of them.

~ BG


August 14th, 2015

That’s my degree of agreement with Marco Rubio’s positions.


Which, of course, I already knew, but it was interesting to actually answer these questions and see exactly WHICH issues, and how important each issue was as a qualifier for me.

Try it yourself.

Let me know your results.

~ Blonde Gator

Chocolate Chocolate Cake ~ Best Ever

August 5th, 2015

Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) makes the most delicious super-duper chocolate cake in the world, called Beatty’s Chocolate Cake.  It has become our “go-to” birthday cake.  Merrion made it last year for Mason’s birthday (she’d never made a “scratch cake” before), and her comment was “it’s so EASY!”.  Give it a try…..highly recommend!

It seems a little strange when you’re making it, the addition of hot fresh coffee (we use Starbucks’ Komodo Dragon, as always) makes the batter seem very loose and liquid.  You’ll think “no way” this is going to work, but the recipe for the cake is absolutely perfect!  The only thing we do differently is to use 9″ pans instead of 8″ pans.  They come out of the oven so rich, and dark, and moist, that they almost look black!

Right out of the Oven

Right out of the Oven

If you rotate your pans half way through baking, the cakes will be so nice and even that you won’t even need to trim your cake before icing it.  Speaking of icing, we always make a double batch.  Because there is no such thing as too much chocolate buttercream!

Melting the Chocolate for the Buttercream Icing

Melting Chocolate for the Buttercream Icing

After letting the cake and icing cool for a bit, it’s time to put the icing on the cake.  Then sit back, and enjoy the kudos you’ll get from the birthday boy or girl!  (The picture of our cake is from a rather low angle, the cake is much taller than it looks in the photo).  Island Girl & I made this one for our friend, Gloria….who told me it didn’t even last one whole day!

Chocolate IS Love

Chocolate IS Love

The addition of coffee in the batter is barely discernible, it just seems to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.  The instant coffee (we use Starbucks’ Via) in the buttercream icing is more apparent, and so delicious you won’t believe your taste buds!  Give this recipe a try, I promise it will become an instant hit with all of your chocolate lovers.

Bon Appetit!

~ Blonde Gator