Tropical Get-a-way Dinner

Neil is here for a visit!! We live in a resort area and sometimes we drive down A1A through Ft. Lauderdale beach, just to remind ourselves of this fact. The Bahamas are just about the same distance from us as Orlando. Did I mention that Neil is here? We invited the Fink and her Folks over for dinner to welcome Neil home (he is here for a visit) and I decided to make it a Tropical Bogandanza!! One of the fruits found throughout the tropics are mangoes so it seemed like a good idea to make a mango themed dinner.

We started with baked brie and mango chutney wraps appetizers, followed by a 100% home grown garden salad and the main course of: mango steak; my famous rosemary roasted potatoes; tomato-pepper-green bean (home grown) casserole (I have to hide the green vegetable so Fran will eat them) and personalized chocolate souffle’s for dessert. (PS, Neil is home for a visit.)

The baked brie and mango chutney is very easy, once you have some chutney. Wait… you don’t BUY chutney, do you? No, I didn’t think so. Winners never cheat and cheaters never win. Fist make the mango chutney:


INGREDIENTS:  (makes about 2 cups)

  • 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 small red hot chile peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 large onions, chopped
  • 1/8 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons golden raisins
  • 2 teaspoons raisins
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, chopped
  • 2/3 cup sliced, semi-ripe mangoes


  1. In a large saucepan combine vinegar, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, chile peppers and salt. Bring to a boil; boil covered for 1/2 hour.
  2. Stir in onions, garlic, golden raisins, raisins and ginger and boil covered for another 1/2 hour.
  3. Stir in mangoes, keep heat high enough to reduce some of the liquid (about another 1/2 hour.)

INGREDIENTS  (makes about 20 pieces)

  • phyllo dough, thawed
  • melted butter
  • 1 (8 ounce) round Brie cheese
  • 1/4 cup mango chutney


  1. Cut the phyllo dough into about 3″ squares and stack 5 sheets, coating with a thin layer of butter
  2. place equal amounts (about 1/4 tsp) of brie and chutney in the center
  3. wet the edges with water and fold into an interesting shape. (I like making them look like turkish taffy candies)
  4. broil on low until the tops are brown. (4 minutes in my oven…don’t burn the brie!)

I made a marinade from mangoes, apples, honeydew and spices. The steak (I used a nice sirloin, but most any good cut would work fine) was marinaded for 3 hours before grilling. When finished it was cut into strips, the width of each determining the serving size, but assume a 6-8oz portion for each person. The steak was placed cut side (red side) up between two rows of honeydew, veggie casserole and roasted potatoes to the side. Neil is here for a visit!!

INGREDIENTS (this amount serves six)

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup minced apple
  • 1/2 cup diced honeydew
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless steaks (again, I used sirloin)


  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the oil, apple, honeydew, mango, garlic salt, Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt, hot pepper sauce to taste and ground black pepper.
  2. Heat for about 5 minutes to get warm. Place the steak in a shallow nonporous dish. Cover with the marinade and refrigerate, covered, for at least 3 hours. Flip steak over halfway through marinating.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat and lightly oil grate.
  4. Grill steak for 10 minutes per side, dousing with remaining marinade, if desired. Steak is done when internal temperature reaches at least 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

In a small skillet heat a couple of tbsp of EVO, add skinned, cubed tomatoes, slided and diced peppers. Add garlic, salt and pepper to taste. After the tomatoes cook and reduce add the green beans and simmer for 15- 20 min, until the beans are tender.

Cut wedges of red potatoes and put in a plastic bag. Add some EVO (enough to coat the amount of potatoes, fresh rosemary (from my garden) some fresh chives (from my garden, hehehehehe) and salt and pepper to taste. I use Kosher or sea salt here. I don’t know why except I like the big grains of salt. Roast at 350 deg for 20 min and if necessary to brown nicely broil for 3 minutes at the end.

see previous posting at Except Parfaits, perhaps the bestest dessert there is

Neil is here for a visit!!

How Does My Garden Grow?

Overall the garden is progressing well. Most of the pants are healthy and presumably happy. I wish the pepper would go into a growth spurt like the tomatoes did. (Damn kids, just can’t rely on them.) I staked the tomatoes with tripods made from bamboo. It was much cheaper than buying something prefab like I did with the cucumbers and pole beans. Old cut up sheets made good ties.


I am still having some problems with some critter liking my cucumber leaves. I tried spraying soapy water on the leaves and when that didn’t work i coated them with Nem. I gave that 3 weeks, I sprinked crushed egg shells around their bases, and yesterday brought in the big, non organic guns, Ortho critter spray. I have to do something to save these plants. But I am pleased that the cucumbers are such tenacious climbers. I may need to support some of the larger fruit but at present the vines themselves are doing just fine.

I have 4 cucumbers so far and one will be ready to harvest next week. The herbs are doing great as is the lettuce. We may be using them for Thanksgiving.



I Just Heard That People Use Maple Syrup on Pancakes Too!!

Thanksgiving is right around the corner (mornings are in the low 70’s now, can’t you feel Jack Frost in the air? ) and we wanted to do something different with the squash this year. What better way of remembering growing up in New England than to add some nice crunchy fresh harvest apples and maple syrup!

Making this was easy and takes just over an hour. Here is what I did. Wash the squash and cut it in half crosswise. then cut it into 3/4″ thick slices and cut those into the semi circles you can see in the picture. Place the squash in an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet (I used a jelly roll pan, it has higher edges.) Combine 2 oz of authentic Vermont Grade A Fancy maple syrup with a teaspoon of margarine. (Nuke it for 20 sec but be careful the syrup doesn’t boil over. Spread about 1/2 of the syrup mixture over the squash and place in a preheated 350 deg oven.

Wash a couple of apples and cut them into slices about 1/4 – 1/2″ thick. Remove any seeds and core. Place on top of the squash after it has baked for 45 min and add the remainder of the syrup mixture. Continue baking for the additional 15 min.

When you remove it from the oven add a sprinkle of brown sugar to each “squapple” slice and brown it with a torch. The shell of the squash is tender enough to eat, but can also be cut away if desired.

How Green is My Garden…

Anyone can stop by the market on the way home and for pennies (nickels, dimes, quarters and dollars) pick up veggies for dinner. Some people prefer to grow their own… veggies. This is a much more un-economical method of providing for your family. It requires work and luck and a bit of skill. Needless to say, (then why say it!) I started a garden this year. I planted 2 varieties of tomatoes, peppers, herbs, pole beans, cucumbers, carrots, scallions and two varieties of lettuce. I researched online about square foot, or intensive gardening and was able to fit this entire crop into a raised bed garden measuring 3 feet by 8 feet. I started many of the plants from seeds, but replaced several that did not take well with established plantlings.

Someone has been eating my pole beans!! Time to plant some natural pest repellents, marigolds, can you spell marigolds? Or maybe some crysanthomums, can you spell crysanthomums? (I can’t.) These flowers are supposed to keep most of the little blighters from my garden. We shall see… we shall see.

Tomato Squash Casserole even Fran would eat

The Porterhouse steaks were still on sale at Fresh Market for $7.99/lb. We decided a second carnivore night fit out budget. Last time I made the aBatteredOldSuitcase-wide famous garlic cheese roasted red potatoes with garlic tomato/green-been veg. I needed another hook to trick, er no, convince, yeah that’s the ticket, another dish for Fran to eat veggies twice this week. Tonight I made the post titled Tomato Squash Casserole.
Here is how I made this:

For the two of use, I used:

  • One small yellow squash, (I wanted acorn squash but apparently it is not in season here now) steamed for about 10 min or until soft enough to mash.
  • I like to reduce the plum tomatoes by cooking them down in a small skillet and making them a bit thicker.
  • Mix one egg, a couple of table spoons of heavy cream but not so much that it overwhelms the egg and other ingredients.
  • 3 or 4 scallions from the end to just into the green stem, cut small. If you like onions, use more
  • Some diced green bell pepper. I like bell peppers so I used about ¼ of one.
  • I wanted to use stuffing but we didn’t have any, so I made some toast and cut it into small pieces, about 1/2” square.
  • 1/8 to ¼ cut grated Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix the egg, cream, squashed squash, peeled and reduced tomatoes, scallions, green pepper, toast cubes and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Transfer the mixture into a greased or sprayed casserole dish. (I used one of my new au gratin dishes)
  • Sprinkle with rosemary
  • Cover the dish with thin sliced tomatoes
  • Sprinkle with 2-3 table spoons of Feta cheese
  • Bake for 45 min at 350 F or until slightly browned.
  • We ended up with enough for 3, but better a little to much that still wanting.

This was paired with the still on sale Porterhouse steak ($7.99/lb. at Fresh Market) and a Black Ale bottled Sept 5, 2011 with an approx. 4% ABV.