Chunky Chuck Chili

Can you say that six times? I don’t always prepare Chili in May, but when I do, it’s cold and rainy and nasty outside like it is today in Middle Tennessee.

I was going to make some beef soup with some chuck that I had taken out of the freezer and placed in the refrigerator yesterday but I decided on chili instead due to the weather. Due to the pandemic, I have only been able to find chuck at the grocery store in 3-4 pound packages so I cut them into one pound chunks and freeze them.

Note: I made this on Wednesday. The weather today has changed drastically since then. Currently 84 degrees, sunny and humid!

Cook/Prep Time – about 2 hours

Servings – Four bowls


  • 1 lb chuck roast (12 oz after trimming)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups diced sweet onions
  • I cup diced bell peppers (any color)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 – 14.5 oz can beef broth
  • 1 – 15.5 oz can pinto beans
  • 1 – 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 tbsp tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp coarse black pepper
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp oregano leaves
  • 1/4 tsp granulated onion
  • 1/4 tsp granulated garlic

Trim the chuck and remove the lineaments and fat. Dice the cleaned beef into 1/4” cubes. Season with 1/2 tsp each salt and pepper. Heat a Dutch oven on medium heat and add the olive oil. When the oil gets hot, add the seasoned beef cubes and brown well. Dice the onions bell peppers and mince the garlic and add to the beef after it is browned.

Continue to sauté until the onions and peppers are translucent, then add the tomato paste and stir in for a few more minutes. Add the beef broth and turn on medium low heat, stirring occasionally for about 30 minutes or until the beef becomes tender.

Add the diced tomatoes, sauce and pinto beans. Stir in seasonings. Blend well and turn to low heat and cook for another 30 minutes. When done, you can just turn to warm heat or put in a crockpot on warm until ready to eat.

I served it with this crusty Dutch oven bread that I made the same day. I will share that recipe sometime in the near future.

That’s it! Enjoy with your favorite toppings – cheese, sour cream, chives, hot sauce or Fritos!

P.S. I intentionally left something I usually mention on my blog posts off of this post to see if anyone notices. Let me know if you do. Thanks!

Crab Augratin

Quarantine got ya a little crabby? Looking for something to cook while self isolating? This cheesy, crabby treat is easy to make and is a delicious dish for dinner or brunch!

This is a variation of another Morrison’s Cafeteria favorite and anytime we put it on the menu back then I would treat myself to it. I prepared these in small 12 oz casserole / rarebit type dishes, but it can also be prepared in one large casserole dish. In the past, I have used half & half for this recipe, but that tended to make it a little too rich so I used whole milk this time.

Cook / Prep Time – About an hour
Servings – 4


  • 8 ounces lump crab meat
  • 8 ounces shredded cheddar/jack cheese
  • 1 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs (or croutons)
  • 2 tbsp shredded Parmesan cheese
  • A sprinkling of paprika
For the sauce…
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp ap flour
  • 1 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup sherry wine
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp hot sauce (I like choulula)
  • 2 tbsp shredded cheddar/jack cheese
  • 1 tbsp shredded Parmesan

Cut and toast the bread cubes. I made croutons using some sourdough bread I made last week.

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat. When melted, add the flour and continue to cook while stirring to make a roux. Do not brown.

When the roux starts to bubble, continue stirring while adding the milk. Cook until the mixture starts to bubble again and add the sherry, mustard, salt, hot sauce and the two cheeses. Turn on low heat continue to stir until well blended. Remove from heat.

Line up the dishes. Spray them with pan spray and add 1/4 cup of sauce to each dish.

Divide the bread cubes between the 4 dishes and place them on top of the sauce.

Pick through the crabmeat to check for any shell pieces and remove them. Then divide the crabmeat evenly and add to the 4 dishes on top of the bread cubes.

Divide the remaining sauce between the 4 dishes and cover the crabmeat.

Top with the cheeses and sprinkle with paprika.

Bake at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until brown and bubbly around the sides. You can also wrap them and freeze them for up to a month.


Here are some quarantine songs to listen to while preparing the crab….

“Alone Again (Naturally)by Irish singer songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan from 1972.

“Dancing With Myself” by Billy Idol from his album of the same name from 1981.

Since Tommy James turns 73 today, how about “I Think We’re Alone Now” by him and the Shondells released in 1967.

“Lonely Too Long” by The Young Rascals from 1968.

“Isolation” by John Lennon from his 1970 album John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band.

(Ain’t Nothin but a) “Houseparty” by the J. Geils Band from 1973.

My Home Quarantine Reading List

During the Covid-19 Stuck at Home order, I have spent a lot of time cooking, baking, and gardening. (Thank God for spring).We haven’t been able to see our children or grandchildren for a month. 😒 Although I am a sports fan, I’m not into watching reruns of sporting events I have already seen. I also love to listen to music and ride my bike. While I have always read, I’ve recently had to time to increase my reading, too!

First of all, I’m going to share a list of my favorite authors:

  • Pat Conroy – the late Pat Conroy was a true poet with words. Author of such classics as The Water is Wide, Prince of Tides and The Great Santini among others.
  • Michael Connelly – a crime fiction novelist and creator of characters such as Harry Bosch and Mickey Haller. Check out his Bosch tv series on Amazon Prime. The new season starts Friday.
  • Greg Iles – a great southern author out of Mississippi, his descriptions of the South and its culture is spot on. I wish he would publish new books more often.
  • Stuart Woods – he published a classic novel, Chiefs back in 1983. He lately has become a kind of a book producing factory similar to James Patterson, and like Patterson’s, in my opinion, the quality of their later novels have deteriorated. I do, however, still enjoy his Stone Barrington novels as some fun escapism.
  • Harlen Coben – a mystery novelist, he is a master with plot twists. I am currently reading his latest, The Boy from the Woods.
  • James Patterson – see my above comments about him. The only series I still read by him is his Alex Cross series because I have been reading them so long I feel as I know all the characters.
  • John Grisham – Another good Southern author, although I think the quality of his newer novels are not in the same class as some of his earlier titles such as The Firm, A Time to Kill, and The Pelican Brief.
  • Linda Castillo – I have always been fascinated by Amish life and I enjoy her series featuring Kate Burkholder, who left the Amish life, but returned to her Amish village as the chief of police.
Current Reads….

Since my blog is mainly a food blog, I will start with a few food related books.

Do you like love stories? Check out Jim Gaffigan’s book, Food – A Love Story. This hilarious humorist and acclaimed lover of food talks about his love of delicacies such as bacon, gravy, BBQ, steak, donuts, pizza, French fries, and and greasy burgers and hot dogs and about his distaste for terrible foods such as salads, vegetables and fruits.


I love this bread cookbook by Peter Reinhardt. He is a baking instructor and faculty member at Johnson Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina his cookbook Crust and Crumb was the 2002 James Beard cookbook of the year, and his recipe for San Francisco Sourdough bread, while quite complicated, is my go to sourdough recipe. I made a few loaves last week.

Sourdough Bread I made using Peter Reinhart’s San Francisco Sourdough Bread recipe.


Cemetery Road by Greg Iles. A fantastic southern crime story. I thoroughly enjoyed it but I wish he would publish more books. I hate waiting, but the quality of the writing is worth the wait! Here is a description of the book from the publisher…. The #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Natchez Burning trilogy returns with an electrifying tale of friendship, betrayal, and shattering secrets that threaten to destroy a small Mississippi town.

And a quick review from The Washington Post“An ambitious stand-alone thriller that is both an absorbing crime story and an in-depth exploration of grief, betrayal and corruption… Iles’s latest calls to mind the late, great Southern novelist Pat Conroy. Like Conroy, Iles writes with passion, intensity and absolute commitment.”Washington Post

Dear Edward by Ann Neapolitan – a story of a twelve year old boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash that killed all the other passengers including the rest of his whole family. Angie Kim of The New York Times called it “a haunting novel that’s a masterful study in suspense, grief and survival” and Stephanie Larratt of The Today Show wrote “its a book about shared humanity, new beginnings and finding hope through even the most trying experience” personally, I thought it was a little depressing but had some good insights into the mind of the twelve year old protagonist.

The Boy from the Woods – Harlen Coben. My current read, I am about halfway through and I am enjoying it. Here is the publisher’s description.

A man with a mysterious past must find a missing teenage girl in this shocking thriller from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Run Away.

Thirty years ago, Wilde was found as a boy living feral in the woods, with no memory of his past. Now an adult, he still doesn’t know where he comes from, and another child has gone missing.

No one seems to take Naomi Pine’s disappearance seriously, not even her father-with one exception. Hester Crimstein, a television criminal attorney, knows through her grandson that Naomi was relentlessly bullied at school. Hester asks Wilde-with whom she shares a tragic connection-to use his unique skills to help find Naomi.

Wilde can’t ignore an outcast in trouble, but in order to find Naomi he must venture back into the community where he has never fit in, a place where the powerful are protected even when they harbor secrets that could destroy the lives of millions . . . secrets that Wilde must uncover before it’s too late.

Next on my reading list….

Camino Winds by John Grisham. Due out on April 28th, 2020. Here is a brief description from the publisher’s website…

When Hurricane Leo threatens Florida’s Camino Island, the Governor is quick to issue an evacuation order. Most residents flee but a small group of diehards decide to ride it out. Amongst them is Bruce Cable, proprietor of Bay Books in downtown Santa Rosa. 

The hurricane is devastating: homes and condos are levelled, hotels and storefronts ruined, streets flooded, and a dozen people are killed. One of the victims is Nelson Kerr, a friend of Bruce’s who wrote timely political thrillers. But evidence suggests that the storm wasn’t the cause of Nelson’s death – he had received several mysterious blows to the head.

Who would want Nelson dead? The local police are overwhelmed with the aftermath of the storm and in no condition to handle the case. Bruce begins to wonder if the shady characters in Nelson’s novels were more fact than fiction. And somewhere on Nelson’s computer is the manuscript of his new novel – could the key to the case be right there, in black and white? Bruce starts to look into it and what he finds between the lines is more shocking than any of Nelson’s plot twists – and far more dangerous.

Hit List by Stuart Woods. The 53rd book in the Stone Barrington series, (I read the other 52). He is a former cop turned P.I. turned lawyer turned millionaire.I like the escapism and the familiar characters in this series. Stone’s favorite things are beautiful women, Knob Creek bourbon, airplanes, fine wine, yachts, and vodka gimlets (in that order). I must say that the earlier books in the series were better. I’m hoping for the best with this newest one.

Fair Warning by Michael Connelly. Due out on May 26, 2020. Connelly is a former police reporter for The Los Angeles Times and a fantastic crime novelist. This will be his third book in his Jack McEvoy series, following The Poet and The Scarecrow. I’m looking forward to this one.

Outsider by Linda Castillo. Due out on July 7th, 2020. The 12th book in the Kate Burkholder series. This one is supposed to be an electrifying thriller about a woman on the run hiding among the Amish.

Happy Reading and stay safe!

Looking for something to listen to while doing some quarantine reading? In honor of Al Green’s 74th birthday yesterday, enjoy his 1975 greatest hits album featuring all of his classics songs.
Also, a quarantine song suggestion by my sister Cathy, how about The Bee Gees 1977 disco classic “Stayin Alive”

Also, Happy Birthday today to another sister, Debbi!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sea Salt Coconut Haystacks (Quarantine Cookies)

I was looking through our pantry to see what we had that I could use to make something to satisfy my sweet tooth while sheltering in place. I found some coconut, oatmeal, and a few partial bags of baking chips. Hmmm… let’s see what we can make using those items!

Note: I had a variety of baking chips available, but you can use any flavor or combination of flavors in this recipe. Just make sure they equal 1 2/3 cup total.

Cook / Prep Time – 1 hour
Servings 1 1/2 dozen
  • 1/2 can condensed milk
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter chips
  • 1/3 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1/3 cup milk chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Toast 1 cup of the coconut in the oven until browned. Remove and set aside. In a double boiler, melt the butter, the condensed milk and all of the baking chips together, stirring frequently.

In another bowl, mix the oats, the toasted coconut, and the other coconut flakes.

When all the baking chips are melted, add the sea salt and vanilla and blend together.

Place some parchment paper on a sheet pan and spray with pan spray. Use a scoop or spoon and spray it with pan spray, too.

When the baking chips are melted and smooth, take off the heat and stir in the coconut and oatmeal mixture. When blended, scoop up the mixture by the spoonful and place on the parchment paper. Sprinkle sea salt on the top of each.

These are sinfully delicious!

Place in the refrigerator and chill until cooled and firm. That’s it!

**Warning – you may consider adapting a self isolating exercise regimen after eating several of these!


Suggested self quarantine playlist to listen to while preparing these….

“U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer from his 1990 album “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em” that features the opening riff of the Rick James song, “Superfreak”

“Too Much Time on My Hands” by Styx from their 1981 album “Paradise Theatre”

“Alone” by Heart from their 1987 album “Bad Animals”

“Keep Your Hands to Yourself” by The Georgia Satellites from their 1986 album, Georgia Satellites”

Our Self Isolation To Do List – 70 Things To Do While Stuck at Home – Been There with Kids.

I would like to share this from fellow blogger

This is our self-isolation to do list which includes 70 things to do at home with your kids or alone. Let’s keep each other safe and stay at home.
— Read on

Shelter in Place Bacon White Bread

Bored at home while “self isolating” ? Cook something!

Here is a delicious bacon flavored bread that you can make while sheltering in place, especially if you cannot find bread in the grocery store. (I couldn’t) But I did find bread flour, yeast and bacon! Everything I needed! (Except toilet paper) This bread makes an excellent B.L.T. !

Note: you can make regular white bread by eliminating the bacon and replacing the bacon fat with shortening, but why would you? You could also use a few extra bacon strips for a more intense bacon flavor.

Cook/Prep Time: 3-3 1/2 hours

Makes two large loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 4 strips bacon
  • 1/4 cup bacon fat
  • 1/4 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 pkg active dry yeast
  • 6 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup warm water

Fry the 4 strips of bacon. Reserve and cool the bacon fat. Set the bacon aside to cool.

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let it set until foamy, about 5-10 minutes.

Warm the milk and add the salt, bacon fat and shortening . Place in a mixing bowl with a dough hook. Add 5 cups of the bread flour, the yeast mixture and the 2 eggs. Mix it on low speed for a few minutes until it all comes together. Place the bacon strips in a food processor to form a paste. Add the paste to the mixing bowl. Slowly add the rest of the flour as needed and mix on medium speed until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.

A little bowl of pure goodness!

If you still have some of the reserved bacon fat, grease a bowl for the dough. Place the dough on the counter and knead it for a few minutes, then place it in the greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and put it in a warm draft free place and let it set for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.

Grease two 9×5 loaf pans. (I only had one pan, so I used a baking stone for the 2nd loaf)

Punch the dough down, removing the air bubbles, and place back in the covered bowl again and let it rest until doubled in size again, 30-45 minutes.

Place the dough on the counter and divide the dough into two dough balls. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough balls into a 9×12 rectangle. Roll them up and pinch the ends to seal.

Place the loaves in the pans, sealed sides down. Cover and let rise until doubled again, about 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees or 350 degrees in a convection oven.

Using a bread lame, razor, or sharp knife, make a small slice across the top of the loaves. When the bread is ready, place in the oven and bake 30-40 minutes until well browned and they sound hollow when tapping them. Remove them from the oven, brush with bacon fat and cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes before slicing.


Suggested songs to listen to while self isolating and baking the bread….

“Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police from their third album “Zeno-atta Mondatta” released in 1980.

“From a Distance” by Bette Midler from her 1990 album “Some People’s Lives”

“I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor from her album “Love Tracks” released in 1978.

Browse my blog for more recipes to fix at home while social distancing…..

How Restaurants can deal with the Covid-19 Crisis

As of this writing, several bars and restaurants have been ordered to close or limit their seatings. These issues are likely to get worse before they get better.

I am by no means a Foodservice expert, but as a life long FoodService veteran, this scenario is heartbreaking for me and I would like to share some links, ideas and tips to help ease the pain of the crisis…..

How the Restaurant Industry is Responding to COVID-19 | James Beard Foundation

Here is another article that Apple News shared from Food & Wine magazine website….

Coronavirus Has a Trickle-Down Effect on Waitstaff’s Wellbeing–asvzPRhw

You can also go to and sign this petition…

Some other ideas…

Trim your menu now!

Keep your regular menus to use again when things calm down. Make temporary limited menus with only your best selling or easiest to prepare items.

Add some anti-viral items to your new menu and a blurb about their anti-viral properties. Here is a link from Better Nutrition…

Temporarily reduce your operating hours.

Be open only at peak times. Open an hour later, close an hour or two earlier, or close for a few hours in the afternoon and clean and wipe everything down.

No sports on tv? Turn something entertaining on. Classic movies? Have a Star Wars or Rocky Horror picture theme? Be creative! Probably keep at least one tv with a news channel on for the diehards?

Reduce your food inventory!

Especially perishable items. Use them up quickly and restock minimally.

If you don’t have curbside service, start one!

Push gift certificate sales. Start a server contest to see who can sell the most, and reward them!

If you have the room, remove half your tables and store them to keep a safe distance away between tables.

Check your local regulations about retaining some items.

Many restaurants retail spices or sauces. Why not buy a couple of cases of toilet paper from your food distributor and resale? Or maybe offer one roll per table free as a gimmick?

Come up with some Covid cocktails. Be creative!

Make a big batch of elderberry syrup and offer free or reduced priced shots for your patrons! (Recipe on my blog)

Place hand sanitizers or wipes at the entrance and exit to your restaurant. Put one on every table if you can. (You may have to chain them to the tables)

Support your other local businesses as often as you can! We’re all in this together!

Any other ideas or suggestions, hit me up and I will add to this list. Thanks!

And this from the Nashville Scene…

Lobster Bisque

It has been a while since I made this, and I have been craving it lately, so let’s do this!

Cook / Prep Time – about an hour

Servings – 2 – 3


  • 2 – 6 oz lobster tails
  • 1 qt vegetable stock
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 celery rib
  • 1 medium carrot
  • 1 medium potato
  • 2 large shallots
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 lg clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1/4 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tbsp ap flour

Add the vegetable stock, water and wine to a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the salt, pepper and thyme leaves. Add the lobster tails and cook for five minutes. Remove them, let them cool and chop the lobster meat and place it in the refrigerator. Place the lobster shells back in the stock and simmer while cleaning the vegetables.

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven on low heat. Clean, wash and dice all of the vegetables, keeping the green onions separate (for garnish). Place the vegetable scraps into the stock pot with the lobster shells. Add the chopped vegetables to the Dutch oven with the butter and cook on low heat until the vegetables soften. Add the tomato paste to the vegetables and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add the flour to the vegetables, continuing to stir for another 5 minutes. using a sieve, pour the hot lobster stock into the vegetables and let it simmer for 5 more minutes while stirring.

Using an immersion blender, purée the vegetables and stock together. Add the heavy cream and chopped lobster meat and return to low heat and simmer for 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with the chopped green onions. That’s it! I served it with some toasted sourdough bread I made yesterday.


**Note: As many of you know, Middle Tennessee was hit by devastating tornadoes earlier this week. Fortunately, our area was not hit but just a few short miles away, many families lost their homes and many are still without power. Recovery is expected to take months, or even years. If you would like to donate to the relief efforts, there is a link below with ways to donate.Thanks! #nashvillestrong

Winter Scenes from Naples Florida

Here is a photo gallery of Naples Florida in late February 2020. Pictures taken at The Naples Pier Beach and the Naples Botanical Garden.