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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Mediterranean Herb Pizza Dough - and cheater pizza sticks

Pizza dough... fast and easy...

3 1/2 cups Flour (divided)
1 package fast rising Yeast
1 cup warm Water
2 TBS Garlic infused Olive Oil
2 TBS Mediterranean Herb Rub (see yesterday's post for that mixture... Click HERE)

In a large bowl, combine the warm water and yeast... mix well

add the other ingredients and mix very well.

Knead dough on a floured surface until smooth... about 10 minutes by hand, 5 minutes in a kitchenaid.

Cover and allow to rise for 2 hours.

And use as pizza dough... it takes about 20 minutes to cook the dough through.

But I take just a bit, and make some BBQ cheater pizza sticks...

Lay out some flat sticks of dough...

add a layer of BBQ sauce, and a bit of Asiago Cheese...

Bake 350 degrees for 20 minutes...

Makes a great appetizer!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another RUB - Mediterranean Herb Mix

Think Herbes de Provence...

This is very useful.  I make a batch of this up once every few months.  It is handy to add a little extra something to lots of dishes.  Once you make it up (takes 5 minutes), you can store a bag in the fridge and always have a fresh teaspoon to add to lots of things... Like pizza dough!

2 tablespoons each -
lemon pepper
garlic flakes

Notice, another low/no salt mix... Too much salt in my diet, so i make my own mixes.  Fast, easy and cheap!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Garlic/Onion/Chipotle Moomie Buns... I did it My Way!

Since this is to be a journal of my cooking and dining experiences while living in ST Thomas, I would be remiss if I didn't include what I do to the world famous Moomie Rolls.

If you have never heard of moomie rolls, go ahead and google them.  over a quarter of a million sites talk about this recipe... And for very good reason.  It is my go to recipe, at least once a week.  Cost wise, I am sure it is less than $1.50 (even at island shopping prices) to make eight hamburger buns.  Or in this case... Sausage rolls...

But, on the island, no bread machine (if you use the dough setting on a bread machine, you can whip these off with almost no effort, no mess)...  But alas, no machine here on the island.  Here is the original recipe, so easy with a bread machine...

� 1 c water 
� 2 tbsp butter or margarine
� 1 egg
� 3 1/4 c. flour
� 1/4 c. sugar
� 1 tsp salt
� 3 tsp instant yeast

� Place all ingredients in your bread machine. Select dough. Allow to run cycle.
 � Dump out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces. With each piece, slap into a bun shape. Usually 4 or 5 slaps will do it. Place on greased cookie sheets or your bun pans, cover; rise about 30 to 40 minutes. Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes til golden. Cool on wire racks. 

And another BUT, no Kitchenaid mixer.  So, it's old school for me once a week... Mix by hand...

And get creative... I added 1 tsp of Garlic Powder
and 1 tsp Onion Powder
and 1 tsp Chipotle Powder

This is such a beautiful recipe.  Form any way you like.  I had just bought a batch of Johnsonville Brats, so I made split top sausage rolls.  Had enough dough left over to make a few "regular" buns.

I made these in the morning, had a left over Blackened pork chop sandwich for lunch...

And at night, I had mango beer braised brats that you will have to go to my "regular" site to read all about it! I posted about those today!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Blackened Tilapia

Remember yesterday???  Cajun Rub (blackening seasoning)... We made a triple batch.  Now we start using it...

Tilapia is a wonderful fish ... Taste and cheap!  Every store from Aldi to Kroger to the cheap place in St Thomas sells big bags of single fillets, individually sealed and perfect for a quick lunch...

And this recipe is quick... Freezer to thawed in the microwave to 4 minutes in the frying pan and served... total time, just a shade over 5 minutes...

While the fish is thawing ... BTW, if you plan ahead, instead of microwave, put a fillet (still sealed in plastic) in a pan of warm water for 30 minutes and it will be thawed.  OK, back to the how to... While the fish is thawing in the microwave, take an aluminum non stick pan and melt one TBS butter for each fillet you are making...

Add one rounded teaspoon of the rub to the butter and get hot hot hot... You will start to see whisps of smoke coming from the spices.  At that stage, turn the heat down just a tinge.  You like the smoke, but you do not want to burn...

Add the fish fillet.  2 minutes, and you continue to see the smoke...

Flip the fish and 2 minutes on the other side...

Filled with flavor, cooked perfect, flaky, not over cooked...

I love blackened fish.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Make your own rub - CAJUN RUB (Blackening Seasonings)

Earlier this week, I got my care package from home (Kansas City).  25 cups of various spices!!!  Click HERE to see what I got.

Now it's time to start doing something with all those beautiful spices...

No, these pork chops are not burnt... They are blackened.  Sadly, many restaurants have confused blackening seasonings with blackened.  Blackened is a cooking process, made popular by Paul Prudhomme! It is a way to infuse and caramelize spices with butter and cook meat.  The collection of spices used would be more accurately called Cajun spiced if you do not use a flash frying method followed by gentle baking... But I digress...

Soon, I will blog the recipe and technique for making these blackened chops, but today... just the rub.

A Cajun rub is very versatile.  Not as hot as it's reputation would suggest, but certainly enough to know you are eating something special.  I prefer to make my own, especially without salt.  There is plenty of salt in our everyday food.  Highly overrated (in my opinion), and more often than not, not needed.  And especially if you are trying to cut back on dangerous quantities of salt.

You can use this rub to spice up just about any cut of meat, and sprinkling some on grilled fruit and veggies makes a special dish really pop.

here's what I did...

1/4 cups Sweet Paprika
1 TBS Garlic Flakes
1 TBS Onion Flakes
1 TBS Dried Thyme Leaves
1 TBS Dired Oregano
1 TBS Black Pepper
2 TBS White Pepper
2 tsp (TEAspoons) Cayenne Pepper
1 tsp Ground Bay Leaves

Go ahead, mix by hand...

Did you pay attention to the quantities?  Biggest quantity was Sweet Paprika (yes, paprika is a pepper, but not a hot hot pepper).  There is a bite to this, it is Cajun after all, but not the killer quantities that people expect.

Isn't this pretty???  I tripled the recipe, as I use this mix a lot.  From eggs in the morning, to grilled pineapple to (of course) meat... Cajun spice is very versatile.

The spices stay fresh for about 6 months.  I store in a ziplock bag in the refrigerator (cool dark place, assuming that little light bulb does indeed go out when the door is closed... Who really knows for sure???).  Mark the bag and date it.

And stay tuned to see my instructions for blackening pork chops and fish... It really is impressive!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


St John Island (one of the "other" US Virgin Islands (the pretty one, almost the entire island is a national park)) is home to a very charming shopping district, just to the right of the ferry exit.  Mostly locally produced artwork and beachwear shops, a few high end jewelry stores.

And this beautiful restaurant!

THE WATERFRONT BISTRO (click HERE to get to their home page) is among the most picturesque places to eat in the entire US Virgin Islands.  Located bay side, with a view of the beach and Caribbean Sea, every table is a wonderful spot to enjoy your break from the world.

Jackie and I had a snorkeling session planned, but wanted to grab a quick bite before heading to our beach.  Their VERY reasonably priced lunch menu was a fun read.  It was foodie heaven to see such a wide selection of starters and soups (chilled tomato saffron with cucumbers and creme fraiche), specialties of the restaurant (Grilled ham and cheese, with gruyere cheese and an egg battered brioche)... But Jackie and I chose to split a blackened chicken breast sandwich with a garlic Aioli...

Only $9 (a bargain on the islands, where just about any burger is over $10, let alone with the beautiful view included free).  It was cooked exactly right, very large (we were splitting to eat a light meal prior to our snorkeling trip).  It was a great meal.

We had planned a quickie meal so we would have time to enjoy the island.  Instead, we stayed for a second adult beverage, enjoyed the top quality food and the view.  It was a great start to our day in St John.

the ST JOHN WATERFRONT BISTRO is certainly on our "must do" list for dinner one night.  The view includes one of the best sunsets on the islands.  Plus their dinner time menu shows the same amount of care as their lunch menu.  Looking for a burger joint... sure, they have that.  Looking for a memorable experience... They toss that in as well.

We loved everything about the Waterfront Bistro.  If you are planning a trip to St John, include this place as one of your "must see"!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My first Foodie Care Package from the States

Christmas came early yesterday.  It took over a week for a 3 day priority mail box to arrive, but it finally arrived!

In Kansas City, there is a "spice guy" that sells spices for $1 a scoop (1/2 cup scoop).  Fresh spices here are difficult to get and VERY expensive.  I spent $8 for some dried garlic flakes I needed for a recipe and knew that I was going to take advantage of a friend and ask him to go shopping for me...

I got so many they didn't even fit in one photo...

3 scoops of Cayenne Pepper
2 scoops of a pre packaged Blackening seasoning..
2 scoop of chipotle pepper
Scoop of red pepper flakes
Scoop of onion flakes
Scoop of garlic flakes
Scoop of onion powder
Scoop of garlic powder

3 scoops sweet paprika
2 smoked paprika
2 scoops szechuan peppercorns
3 scoops mixed peppercorns
Scoop of white sesame seeds
Scoop of black sesame seeds
Scoop of Dry Mustard

2 scoops of Cinnamon
10 Cinnamon sticks
2 scoops star anise
2 scoops whole cloves
Bay Leaves
Celery seeds
Fennel Seeds

1/2 scoop of saffron threads

So, what did I leave out?  Are there any spices you could not cook without???

OK, we're cooking now!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Why so many RUM Recipes???

And remember, no tax...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Robert's American Grille

Our little home away from home is located in the Cowpet Bay area of the island.  In our bay, we share beach space with the St Thomas Yacht Club, a couple of condo developments and the Elysion Beach Resort. By far, the most developed of these is the Elysion.  Complete with rental facilities for beach toys (little sailboats, snorkeling equipment, paddle boats, etc.), Full service spa (Jakie has an appointment to get her hair done next week, and for some ridiculous reason, a manicure/pedicure), a bar with happy hour specials and best of all, a top quality high end restaurant - ROBERT's AMERICAN GRILLE!

Best way to describe Robert's is Casual beach side ELEGANCE!  Located just steps from the beach, in a comfortable spacious setting, it is a place to come dressed in resort finery... or shorts and flip flops.  But what is surprising is the high end quality of the food.

Follow the link above to see their menu.  This is no burger on the beach joint at all.

We split an appetizer, The THREE CHEESE MIXED GRILLE.  A baked combination of Brie, Grueyere and Goat cheeses; topped with almonds and an herb vinaigrette served with a delicious toasted bread.  I love cheese, and this was OUTSTANDING!

Jackie chose the Ribeye.  HUGE, and grilled as she ordered (sadly, medium well, but that;s the way she likes it).Not shown in the photo, the steak rested on a generous cheese stuffed mashed potatoes and beans.  The addition of tomato slices added a cold contrast taste to the plate that worked very well.  the wine sauce gravy was very rich and blended well with the green beans, potatoes and the meat.  It was a perfect plating.

But as good as Jackie's meal was, take a look at my Lamb Chops.  One of their specials for the night, the chops came with the same mashed potatoes (my substitute, they were offered with mashed sweet potatoes).. a diced tomato chutney and a very generous amount of button mushrooms in a very rich butter sauce.  Grilled to a perfect medium (my choice for lamb, medium rare for beef).  Beautifully plated and out of this world for taste!

My only complaint... The meal was so good, and there was so much food that we skipped dessert.

Robert's is a culinary gem. One of those chef/owner places where the quality of the food is far better than the slow paced location would expect.  Never crowded, but always top quality cooked to order specialties, Robert's American Grille deserves a repeat visit... again and again!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Pineapple BAY BREEZE

A classic - in fact, one of the original Rum cocktails.  Often, when you order a Rum Punch, you will get this drink.  Jackie is such a fan of the Cruzan Pineapple infused Rum that I just substituted that for the "normal" light rum commonly used in a Bay breeze...

2 ounces CRUZAN Pineapple Rum
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
2 ounces Cranberry Juice

Combine and serve over ice for a Pineapple Bay Breeze on the rocks, or add a cup of ice, mix in a blender till it reaches a milkshake consistency to make a frozen pineapple Bay Breeze.

Not sure if Jackie was just celebrating a "thank God it's Friday" moment, but this was the first of the rum drinks I have made that she sucked down quickly and asked for a second one.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Skinny Pirate

The lowly Rum and Coke...

Well, use Black Cherry Rum, add a bit of Grenadine and you have an adult version of a cherry-Coke.  And if you use a Diet Coke, you can even claim low-cal...

1 can of Diet Coke
2 ounces of CRUZAN Black Cherry Rum
1/2 ounce Grenadine

Mix well and serve over ice

Or for a special treat, put it all in a blender, with a cup of ice blend til you have a milkshake consistency.

So far, this is Jackie's favorite!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Girl Scout Cookie - the Drink

This drink recreates the taste of those addictive thin mint cookies the girls in green sell every year.  And does a really great job of it.  It is important to use clear Cream de Cacao, and not the brown.  The two taste the same, however the drink needs to be that pretty minty color of the deluded Creme de Menthe.

But I am ahead of myself... Here is the recipe...

1ounce Light CRUZAN RUM
1 ounce Creme de Menthe
1 ounce Cream de Cacao
1 ounce Half and Half

Tastes great chilled, straight up, or on the rocks

OR, for a frozen Girl Scout Cookie ... add 1 cup of ice and use your blender to achieve a milkshake consistency.

'Cause we all know that a thin mint cookie out of the freezer is best!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Hey look... no rum today...

This is an alcoholic version of a very popular non-alcoholic drink served on the golf courses of America.  Named for my generation's "greatest living golfer", if you order an Arnold Palmer at any 19th hole, you will get an equal mixture of Lemonade and sweet Tea... No booze.

A year or so ago, the good folks at FIREFLY VODKA created an infused Vodka.  Not infused with Peach or lemon like the other guys did, Team FIREFLY (good ol' Carolina boys) infused their mama's sweet tea with their daddy's vodka.  Tastes great straight up, but it was only a matter of time before someone would "dirty" up the Arnold Palmer drink.

Sure enough, the "Dirty Arnie" has become a very popular drink on the Islands.  It is on most menus, and all the bartenders know it well.

Straight up, it is

3 ounces FIREFLY Sweet Tea Vodka
3 ounces Lemonade
served in a rocks glass

Also shown above, a frozen version,

add 1 heaping cup of ice and use your ice crusher setting on your blender.

I tried really hard to come up with a Tiger Woods joke that would go with this drink... Nothing outstanding, so I will just hoist a Dirty Arnie and wish him well.

These are best when you go out your back door, walk 30 yards to the beach, snorkel around the coral for an hour after your inconvenient day job, come back and sit on your deck.  Since it is only 2 ingredients, it is very easy and quick to  make.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Pina Colada

It's the drink of legend... It's the drink of song and cheating spouses everywhere.

It is also among the easiest of all the tropical drinks to make...

Equal parts Pineapple Juice, CRUZAN coconut Rum and Cream of Coconut

I like 2 ounces Cruzan Coconut Rum
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
2 ounces Cream of Coconut

Blend... Can be served over ice, or add a cup of ice to the blender and use the ice crusher setting and blend till you get a milkshake consistency.

These are best sitting on your deck while you watch the hard working maintenance crew give the palm trees a trim.

Monday, March 15, 2010


Over the weekend, we took the ferry for the short boat trip to neighboring Virgin island, ST JOHN!  ST John is mostly a national park, but with incredible beaches, great places to hike, 4,000 wonderful residents and 400 asses in residence (There is a large group of wild donkeys roaming the park); St John is also a near perfect tourist destination.

The ferry drops you off at the only town on the island.  Bay side restaurants, jewelry stores, tee shirt shacks and one very special store (for me) greet everyone as you debark (disembark???) the ferry.

The ST JOHN SPICE CO is paradise in paradise... Shelves upon shelves upon table displays upon table displays of spices, teas, coffees, hot sauces, a few cooking supplies, coffee mugs, tee shirts and beach supplies.  But mostly, I was there to see the spices, and they did not disappoint.

What I really appreciated was the prepackaged spice mixes.  Grilling rubs and Jerk spices were a highlight for me and I certainly did not leave the island without them.

Their website...  handles mail order for you land locked souls (and for me in 5 months and a week ;(

But also a really fun thing, they have the ST JOHN SPICE CAM set up.  So, you too can enjoy all the folks visiting the island.

And just in case you think I sobered up during my short little jaunt to ST JOHN, here is an original rum recipe for you.  We are naming this the...


in honor of our trip to ST JOHN.  The ferry was fun, very scenic, but it makes hourly trips to the island, so cleanliness was not it's priority.  Much like this drink.  It uses Cruzan rum cream, which makes the drink just a little dirty looking  It has cream to symbolize a smooooooth sailing (and a smooth drink).  It has a couple of kinds of rum to show add a sense of anticipation on what the new island mixture will bring.  And it has a banana because I like bananas...

Here's what I did...

2 ounces CRUZAN Rum Cream
2 ounces CRUZAN Coconut Rum
2 ounces Cream (I had a bit left, so I made a milkshake thick drink, "regular" milk would work as well)
1 banana

Mix in a blender and serve over ice for a cocktail

or add a cup of ice to the blender and serve as a frozen drink!

Sunday, March 14, 2010


I went to St John yesterday and had an adventure.  I went snorkeling with sharks!!!  This guy, that I was able to capture on film was about 5 feet long.

He was only a Nurse Shark, a bottom dweller that mostly feeds at night, so he is a rare sight among daytime swimmers.  But, a shark non the less!

So, in honor of my bottom dwelling new friend, I have an original drink...  I added a splash of grenadine, which gently floats to the bottom of the drink.  I made a frozen version (Ice in a blender makes a "milk shake" consistency drink) for myself, as well as an "on the rocks" version.


Equal parts and a splash.  Serve up, on the rocks or frozen...

2 ounces CRUZAN Coconut Rum
2 ounces Orange Juice
2 ounces Pineapple Juice
splash Grenadine

serve on the rocks, or combine in a blender with a cup of ice.  Use the ice crusher setting and blend.  If you do the frozen version, add the grenadine after the blending.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

BANANA BOAT - Great Frozen Drink for the End of the Day-O

Name of the drink and the "real" name of the song...

This one is very easy, only 3 ingredients and ice...

2 ounces Cruzan Coconut Rum
2 ounces Milk
1 ripe Banana
1 cup Ice

Shove in a blender and mix!

It is best if you take these down to the beach and ponder if you should take sailing lessons...

Maybe tomorrow