Gramma’s Yam Souffle


I made a batch of this last week and on first taste I was transported back to the multi-course meals of my childhood.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, or just a weekend visit to her house always meant a large meal where every square inch of the dining room table was covered in serving bowls, platters, and dishes.  She always used a formal place setting with family heirloom china and silverware, linen napkins, and always a dessert.  The sides were always my favorite parts of her meals – rolls, stuffing (not only for Thanksgiving!), scalloped potatoes, fruit salad, and my all-time favorite – yam soufflé.

I never knew what made her soufflé so delectable, but now I have the secrets.  I tell you, eating it was like, to quote another enthusiastic eater I know, “rainbows and unicorns in my mouth!”  Read on for her added ingredients that make this casserole the perfect side for any meal, including the upcoming Ode to Eating day – Thanksgiving.

sweet potatoes

I started by roasting 5 medium – large sweet potatoes at 425° for 30 – 40 minutes or until soft.  Or you could skip to canned and puréed sweet potato.


One of the key ingredients in this dish is the orange zest – it gives it a brighter and fresher flavor.


Separating the eggs and adding the whites later gives a fluffier texture.


Beat the egg whites separately until stiff, but not glossy, peaks form.


Egg whites are like clouds, I tell ya.

The entire mixture reminds me of something like orange sherbet.  It just looks happy.  I was happy at this point, can you tell?


I was starting to get a little giddy for this dish, by this point.


The finished masterpiece.  The way this casserole puffs up, crackles, and browns is almost too perfect.  Serve it immediately, because refrigerator time makes it less dramatic and less crackled.  If you are pinched for time, mix up all ingredients except for egg whites ahead of time.  Then, just before baking, beat egg whites, combine with other ingredients, and bake.

Gramma’s Yam Soufflé (from her friend, Cindy)

3 cups mashed yams (sweet potatoes)

1/3 cup sherry or orange juice

1-1/4 cup cream

6 tablespoons melted butter

1-1/2 teaspoon orange zest

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

6 eggs, separated

Combine together: sweet potatoes, sherry or juice, cream, butter, orange zest, pepper, nutmeg, salt, brown sugar, and egg yolks.  Mix until smooth.

Just before baking, whip egg whites until soft peaks form.  Fold into sweet potato mixture.

Pour mixture into greased casserole dish and bake at 350° for 45 – 50 minutes, or until golden on top.  Allow to cool for a few minutes and serve immediately.

Zucchini Cakes + Iowa City

Ok, so not cakes that are sweet, but nice little baked goods that are somewhere between a frittata and tater tot and oh so good.
These babies were so good I made them two nights in a row at our house!  I still have loads of zucchini to use up – so of course the zucchini recipes are still coming!  I have quite a bit of zucchini in the freezer right now, just taunting me.  

The first part takes planning and is crucial – allowing the zucchini shreds to dry out between layers of paper towels in the fridge, at least overnight.  This way your finished zucchini cake isn’t a soggy mess.

Mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  I used cheddar chunks one time and cheddar shreds the second, both were equally tasty.

 Fill 12 sprayed muffin cups.

Bake until golden – 15 – 20 minutes at 400 degrees.  You should end up with a dozen ½ full muffins or cakes.

Part of our Labor Day weekend was spent in Iowa City – both Eric and I are Hawkeyes, so it was fun to get back to that town for a day.

We met my parents there and started off with a hearty and delicious breakfast at the Hamburg Inn No. 2.    It is a well known spot for college students, locals, and travelers alike – also a common presidential stop.  Their pie milkshakes are world-famous.

Greta loved the bridge over the river to the art building.  So many treks were made across there in all kinds of weather.

We made a stop in the Macbride Hall Museum of Natural History.  This museum is free and rivals the best museums in the biggest cities.  The dioramas are superb, the giant sloth is frighteningly large, the mammal hall impressive, and the bird hall chock full of a dizzying array of all things feathered.

We made a trip to the Macbride Raptor Project, which is about 25 minutes outside of Iowa City near the reservoir and Sugar Bottom.  Again, free, and completely worth the trip – the birds housed here are either unable to live in the wild due to injuries or human imprinting.  

We ended the holiday weekend by drying more tomatoes.  Greta is my helper with removing stems and washing.  

 An afternoon fishing trip at my parents’ pond was the best end to a near-perfect weekend.

This photo sums up my love of a perfect summer, almost fall day.  Does it get any more gorgeous than this?

Zucchini Cakes – makes 1 dozen

1. Shred 2 cups of zucchini.  Spread in a plate, between layers of paper towels and refrigerate overnight.

2. In a mixing bowl, mix together 2 cups zucchini, 1 cup panko, ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, ¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese, 2 cloves minced garlic, ground pepper, and 2 eggs.

3. Grease 12 standard muffin cups.  Fill 12 cups with zucchini mixture – should be about ½ full. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15- 20 minutes or until golden on top.  

Apricot Corn Muffins + Tomato & Sausage Cornbread

Cornbread and corn muffins have and always will be a staple around my household – they were when I was a kid and will continue to be into Greta’s childhood.  I have two recipes that are easy and quick – one savory and one sweet, but both easy as pie to make for a snack or meal.

The first recipe comes from the need to use tomatoes.  No, don’t worry, I will not go on a tomato binge like my previous zucchini posts.  Though I admit, I am not done with zucchini recipes, merely resting from them for the time being.  This gorgeous tomato comes from my mother’s garden, along with hundreds more.  Tomatoes anyone?

This dish is truly something worthy of a painting – soft and chewy on the inside with lovely bites of tomato and sausage (I opted for fake) with a crusty Parmesan pepper top.  This is sure to please all – real or fake sausage.

This was our dinner tonight – tomato sausage cornbread and steamed green beans.  More mom’s garden vegetables – the green beans are so good this year.

Greta asked me for seconds tonight because she helped me to prepare them!

These sweet treats were born from a large quantity of fresh apricots on the verge of being non-edible in their raw stage.  Necessity is the mother of invention, most certainly in the use it or lose game of baking and cooking.  The addition of fruits and vegetables to cornbread requires a little more baking time – so watch the oven and use a knife to ensure you avoid doughy centers.

Tomato & Sausage Cornbread 

1. Grease a glass 8×8 inch baking dish with margarine, set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup cornmeal, 1 cup flour, ¼ cup sugar (OR 2 tablespoons Truvia Stevia blend), 2 teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.

3.  In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup (almond) milk, ¼ cup vegetable oil, and 1 beaten egg.  Combine with flour mixture in a few swift strokes, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure adequate mixing.

4. Chop ½ large or 1 medium tomato into ½ pieces.  Dice 1 sausage (real or fake) into ½ inch wide pieces.  Fold into batter.  Pour batter into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and grate fresh peppercorn on top.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or till knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Apricot Corn Muffins – makes 12

1. Grease 12 muffin cups with margarine, or line with paper, set aside.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium bowl, mix together 1 cup cornmeal1 cup flour¼ cup sugar (OR 2 tablespoons Truvia Stevia blend)2 teaspoons baking powder, and ½ teaspoon salt.

3.  In a glass measuring cup, combine 1 cup (almond) milk¼ cup vegetable oil, and 1 beaten egg.  Combine with flour mixture in a few swift strokes, scraping the bottom of the bowl to ensure adequate mixing.

4. Cut in ½ and remove pit from 6 fresh apricots.  Place one apricot in the bottom of each muffin cup.  Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.  

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes, or till knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Chili Coconut Cornbread + Memorial Weekend Grilling

I am way behind on this blog here lately.

It is because our house is quickly being put away into boxes. My little superhero is doing better than I expected as things get boxed up and put away.  She did discover the joys of stomping on bubble wrap.

We made time over Memorial Day Weekend to hang out on the deck and enjoy our last couple weekends in Greensboro.  We decided that grilling out for lunch on Sunday would be a good way to relax.   Greta was taking a long afternoon nap, so we got to work cooking.

I whipped up this new recipe that uses only corn flour – no wheat and coconut sugar and oil in place of refined sugar and vegetable oil.  So, I guess it sorta falls under that pesky clean eating label.

Mix together dry ingredients.  The crushed red pepper flakes add a nice zing to the island cornbread flavor.

Swap out the vegetable oil for coconut oil.  Simply warm the coconut oil briefly in the microwave for a few seconds, pour the oil into the bowl with the wet ingredients, and then use the drippings to oil the baking pan.

 Mix together all ingredients in a few swift strokes.

Pour batter and smooth into an 8″ square pan.  Bake at 375 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

Serve warm with honey.  We had a few other tasty sides – stuffed jalapeno peppers, grilled sweet potatoes, and Eric made ribs.  I am not much of a rib person, so I can’t really tell you much about the ribs other than he marinated them, baked them in foil, and then grilled them.  I can however, tell you about the peppers and sweet potatoes – read on for more.

Eric has this nifty knife that cuts and then cores a jalapeno pepper in a neat little twist.

 He slice a few of these peppers and loaded them into his pepper grilling tray.

This tray is perfect for keeping your stuffed peppers upright in the grill.  We threw on some sliced sweet potatoes and sprayed them with oil.

 Eric stuffed the jalapenos with chunky salsa, sliced sharp cheddar and a sprinkling of Kosher salt.

 Grill them all to perfection.

 It all fit perfectly with his ribs.

 These are two of my favorite vegetables and they are together!  I was so excited for this meal.

Here is the whole shebang meal.  Those cute little bicycle napkins are made by my Aunt – check out her Etsy site if you’d like a set of cloth cocktail napkins for yourself.

Chili Coconut Cornbread

1. In a medium bowl, stir together 2 cups cornmeal, 1 tablespoon coconut sugar, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, 1 tablespoon baking powder.

2. Microwave 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a glass measuring cup, until liquid.  In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 eggs, 1 ¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk, and 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil.

3. Use leftover melted coconut oil drippings to grease an 8′ square pan.  Pour batter into pan and smooth out.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 20 – 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.  Serve warm with honey.

Spiced Corn on the Cob

One thing I am really looking forward to about the move back to Iowa is sweet corn.  There is nothing like sinking your teeth into fresh sweet corn on the cob.  I mourned sweet corn during the years I had braces and could not wait for the day to have them removed – the day AFTER yearbook pictures were taken in ninth grade.  Go figure. 
Anyway, we had our first sweet corn of the season recently and I tried out three wonderful flavor mixtures the last time we made corn on the cob.  Check them out below.  
After husking the corn, see here for a secret to husking corn that I will have to try next time, place corn onto parchment paper and prepare with seasonings.  I broke my ears in half so Eric and I could try all three flavors and choose our favorite.  
For the first ear, I used a smear of margarine, a sprinkling of coconut sugar, and Cajun seasoning.  

For the second ear, I used Sriracha hot sauce and minced garlic.  

The last ear, I used a smear of margarine, a sprinkling of crushed red peppers, and a sprinkling of lime juice.  

I was pretty sure this one would be my favorite – there is just something about hot peppers and limes that get me every time!

Roll the parchment around the corn cobs and then place in aluminum foil.  Fold the edges over the points of the cob first and then pinch long flaps together to make a mohawk on your corn.  Pinch the mohawk together to ensure no loss of flavorings.

Bake in a 425 degree oven for 20 to 25 minutes.  Open foil packets and allow to cool slightly before serving.  
Pretty sure we’d put this cookbook to good use.
Eric’s favorite was the Sriracha combination, due to its spicy heat, but let’s face it, we’ll put Sriracha on anything around here.  I liked the pepper and lime corn – the lime juice made the flavors of the corn and pepper so much brighter.  The Cajun one was equally good –  I could see that flavoring served with hush puppies.  

Zesty Beet Greens

For the most part, food fads annoy me.  Low carb, South Beach, grapefruit diet, Atkins, cabbage soup, juicing….I could go on but am not trying to offend anyone.  I just figure one should eat well-rounded healthy foods, avoid processed foods, go heavy on the fruits and vegetables, and above all enjoy food.   This can include a vice or two, but with moderation.  My father always says, “Eat to live, don’t live to eat.”

I love that people are jumping on the idea of clean eating.  My only beef with it is why can’t this just be accepted as the way to eat instead of being labeled with a cutesy and catchy term?  Clean eating just gives this (duh, in my mind) way of eating a fad feeling.  Now off my soap box I go – here’s an easy way to eat more greens and really enjoy them too.

Beets are fantastic.  The candy of the vegetable world, as my grandmother calls them.  The leafy greens are equally delectable, something I had to learn much later in life.  My parents grew beets when we were kids and we would often eat the beet tops as a part of our summer meals, much to my dismay.

To prepare beet greens, wash first, and then simply chop the beet tops off, and slice the greens off of red stem.  Discard red stem and chop greens down to smaller, more manageable bite-size pieces.  Turn the beets into beet chips.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add greens when pan is hot.  Stir frequently.

Add generous dusting of fresh ground pepper, 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic, and a generous dusting of ginger powder.  Cook until greens are slightly wilted, do not overcook to a soggy mash.

I knew these were a big hit when Eric eyed my bowl and said, “These are really good, are you going to finish yours?”

Now I am just hoping I get to harvest some kale before we leave in June.  It’s a stretch, I know.  55 days from the planting day should be the week we are moving out so I am keeping my fingers crossed.

Zesty Beet Greens

1. Remove beet tops from 3 beets, wash thoroughly.  Slice the greens off of the red stem with a knife.  Discard the woody red stems and chop greens down to smaller, more manageable bite-size pieces.

2.  Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat.  Add greens when pan is hot.  Combine a generous dusting of fresh ground pepper, 1 – 2 cloves minced garlic, and a generous dusting of ginger powder (1 – 2 teaspoons?).  Stir frequently, cooking until greens are slightly wilted, do not overcook to a soggy mash.

Mole Beans and Rice + Veggie Burritos

This recipe comes from our spring break trip to Corolla, NC and the wonderful restaurant – Agave Roja.  Their re-fried black beans and rice side dishes were so tasty I just has to remake them at home.  I was having a hard time to putting my finger on the flavor of the re-fried black beans and it was Eric who finally figured out that mole was the unique flavoring.  
Mole is a fantastic flavor from Mexico that in my mind, is like a curry.  It is often made of a variety of materials and no two good moles are exactly the same.  It is often made from ground nuts, seeds, and chili peppers and rounded out with cinnamon, cloves, and other spices usually associated with sweets.  
This is a simple recipe –  that really only needs a microwave, can opener, and two bowls.  Heat 1 can of black re-fried black beans in a microwavable safe bowl to warm.  Then, add mole flavoring.  I used the concentrated mole, which calls for a 1 to 4 ratio of mole to water.  Combine 1 tablespoon of mole and 4 tablespoons water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and microwave until water is hot.  Stir to combine.  Add mole liquid to beans, mix well, and return to microwave to heat thoroughly.  
Serve this bean side with veggie rice and sauteed veggie burritos.  I dressed up the rice by swapping the plain water for 1 cup vegetable broth and adding about ½ cup frozen mixed vegetables during the cooking of the rice.  Not only is the rice more colorful but it also adds more veggies to your meal.  

For the veggie burrito filling, saute 1 chopped onion, 4 oz sliced mushrooms, and 2 small zucchini in oil.  Start by cooking the onion over medium heat and cook until soft.  Add in zucchini, cook until softened.  Add mushrooms last and cook until the juices are released.  This will ensure veggies are not overcooked.

Serve sauteed veggies on tortillas with cheese (fake or real) and salsa verde.  This was a winning combination – the veggie burrito paired well with the spiced up beans & rice.

Greta enjoyed rolling up her burrito and taking a few bites, though it was mostly the rolling and unrolling of a tortilla that held her interest.

The past week or so we have either eaten our dinners outside or run outside as soon as the last crumb is consumed, or Greta loses interest, whichever comes first.  The weather has been gorgeous – in the 70s to 80s with sunshine and nice breezes.   Greta has discovered that all she wants to do is play in the park or run around her yard.

On that note – break out the short sleeve shirts!  This is my thrifty find of the week and it is perfect for an art teacher.  

I found this Anthropologie beauty at a local thrift shop for $8.  If I spill paint on it will I even notice?

Mole Re-fried Black Beans 

1. Heat 1 can of black re-fried black beans in a microwavable safe bowl to warm.  

2. Combine 1 tablespoon of mole and 4 tablespoons water in a small bowl or glass measuring cup and microwave until water is hot.  Stir to combine.  Add mole liquid to beans, mix well, and return to microwave to heat thoroughly.

Veggie Rice 

1. Cook 1 cup rice.  Replace water with 2 cups vegetable broth.  Add ½ cup frozen mixed vegetables to cooking rice.

2. Cook until rice is soft and water soaked up (follow times and proportions on rice package).

Veggie Burritos

1.  For filling, saute 1 chopped onion4 oz sliced mushrooms, and 2 small zucchini in oil.  Start by cooking the onion over medium heat and cook until soft.  Add in zucchini, cook until softened.  Add mushrooms last and cook until the juices are released.

2. Serve sauteed veggies on tortillas with cheese (fake or real) and salsa verde.

North Carolina Transportation Museum + Spicy Roasted Vegetables

The past week has kept our family moving, moving, moving.  We were out of the house for a while on Saturday due to an open house.  We decided to head over to the Guilford Courthouse National Military Park for a walk on Saturday.  The weather was unbelievable – sunny and 73 degrees!

Greta enjoyed riding in her backpack and watching the re-enactors make dinner and sit around their tent encampments.

We only saw one Red Coat traipsing around the woods.

The following day, on Sunday, the weather was still warm, but more overcast.  My front garden is a riot of yellows, violets, whites, pinks, and green right now.  I am still impressed that the leftovers from my spinach and lettuce bed grew all winter long and are now in full bloom.  
On Sunday, we decided to head to the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina.  I know, what is it with us and the museums that display all things transportation?

The train ride and round house ride were fun.  Greta kept making buzzing train noises the entire time we were there.  
Greta was dying to climb on every train we encountered.  Luckily there were a few areas where steps had been installed to allow you to climb up and look inside some of the trains.  The sheer size of these machines is impressive.  

Each view made me want to come back with my old-school 35 mm camera loaded with black and white film.  Luckily, we did have the Diana and shot a few 120 mm film.  When that gets developed I will share the images with you.

 The lighting, lines, textures…all an art teacher’s dream place to take art students.

 Of course the orange school bus caught my eye.

This building has been recently remodeled and will eventually be open to the public.  As of right now, you are only able to stand behind the chained off areas.  This room will help turn this train-themed museum into a more transportation oriented visit.  
We walked around for a couple hours and looked at all the exhibits we were able to see.  The museum is still on its way to being spectacular, but is well worth the visit.  The parking lot starts at the train depot, there are plenty of picnic tables, plenty of sites, and the historic downtown Spencer is just on the other side of the tracks.  
Greta slept the most of the hour ride home and was ready for dinner as soon as we rolled into the driveway.  Luckily, I had an easy plan for dinner – leftovers and some delicious hot and citrus flavored roasted vegetables.  It must seem like we live off roasted vegetables and well, we do.  It is just simply the way I like my vegetables.  

Goodness this was an easy Sunday evening meal.  I had the vegetables all prepped from the day before – I simply sliced them, placed them in a pan, drizzled the marinade on the top, covered, and placed in the fridge until I was ready to roast.

Spicy Roasted Vegetables

1. Quarter and then halve: 1 small or ½ of a medium head of red cabbage.  Cut into wedges: 1 small onion.  Halve and then cut into 2-inch segments: 2 large carrots.  Arrange all vegetables on rimmed baking sheet.

2. For the marinade: spray vegetables with olive oil until well-coated.  Sprinkle lemon juice, lime juice, and chipotle hot sauce.  Toss until evenly coated.  

3.  Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes.

Sweet Potato Wedges

Ok, I know that I once said it was too easy not to buy the frozen sweet potato fries.  Well, I was wrong.  I have found that I am too cheap to keep buying those frozen delights, but since they do make any meal fantastic, and toddlers love anything that resembles a fry, I found my own way.  I served them up with chipotle ketchup too.

Wash and slice 2 sweet potatoes into wedges.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with choice of flavorings.  I went with black pepper and chili powder tonight.

Bake at 425 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, flipping wedges once half-way through baking.

Voila.  Save yourself some money and make yourself happy and make these ASAP.  Sweet potatoes are one veggie we always have around the house – they are so versatile and it helps that North Carolina is the sweet potato state.  Check out this link to show how the sweet potato was carved that was featured on the cover of Our State magazine in November.  Sorry if you missed that issue – it was a tasty one!

Mommy’s Medley Sweet Potato Wedges

1. Wash and slice into wedges, 2 sweet potatoes.  Spread evenly onto a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil and sprinkle with seasonings of choice.

2. Bake 20 – 25 minutes in a 425 degree oven.  Flip wedges once, half-way through baking.

Dreaming of Key West + Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots

Key West, Florida is a family favorite locale.  My parents and sister have been there more frequently than Eric and I – we have only been twice now.  I know, the shame!  Poor Greta has yet to experience Key West.  I have been daydreaming of spring break trips this year, as we are not likely to have one with the process of packing, selling a house, and moving on our radar this spring.  So, on this nice and sunny, 60 degree day in Greensboro, I dream of Key West.  Read on to find some highlights of our last trip to Key West in April of 2010 plus an easy side, a Key West inspired recipe – Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots.

My family always stays in the same place – the Eden House.  This place is heaven.  This is the elaborate system of walkways with privacy fences between the pool and one of the houses that has been converted to suites.  We stayed on the second floor of one such suite.  There are a variety of rooms, suites, and even condo-like setups.

The front porch of the Eden House – I could spend an entire day sitting here watching Key West amble by.

This is our post wake-up and pre-breakfast meet-up.  This particular trip included myself, Eric, Brady (brother-in-law), Caroline (sister), my dad and my mom.  

Our suite had a porch off the back with chairs and a swing.  We spent most of our evenings out here watching the tour buses and people go by.

Eric and I love to take our Diana camera along on vacations – it takes lovely dreamy photos.  Analog film is still better than Instagram, if you ask me.  I was working on a watercolor painting of Eric sitting in the swing.

The Southernmost Point is a fun place to visit.  Be prepared to wait in line for your turn to take a photo, though.

Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is a great place to ride your bike to.  They always have interesting sculptures set up along the walkways.  This year was no exception – this one made from twigs framed the water beautifully.  
Bring water along – the ride is warmer and sunnier than you think, but there are concessions to purchase at the park.  
You can also swim, rent chairs,
wade in the water, and enjoy a walk on their paths.  

We ride our rental bikes everywhere on the island.  The island is flat and the roads easy enough to ride on – cars are well-versed in tourists on bicycles.  We enjoy riding around the entire edge of the island at least once.  This trip always takes us out to the pier. Everyone smiles in Key West – how could you not with this backdrop?

Usually we see pelicans on the pier.

The wide path behind Eric is what we ride on for a good length along the beaches.  I can almost feel the ocean breeze now.  Sigh. 

We always make time for the Ernest Hemingway home.  This beautiful home was built in 1851 and became the famous author’s home in 1931.  I love the two-story porches and green shutters. 

 The furniture inside the home was used by Hemingway and his family.

The different shades of green are fitting for a Key West home.  I love the painted floors!

 The home and gardens are filled with cats.  There are about 40-50 poly dactyl cats around the house and grounds – all descendants of Ernest Hemingway’s 6-toed cat named Snowball.  This particular marmalade enjoys its place on the bed.

There are signs of the cats everywhere – footprints in the concrete around the house and pool.

 The cats are sleeping on furniture, in the gardens, and in the house.

 There is even a little cat graveyard in the garden, complete with a cat house for the living.

This last trip, we headed over to the Martello Tower, which is now the Key West Garden Club.  This is a free destination in Key West and was once a fort during the Civil war, but now home to a lush garden full of interesting plants.

These white angel trumpet flowers formed a shady canopy overhead.  

The colors were just a riot.

 The lizards are everywhere.

This spiny tree was my favorite.  
Eric even found a coconut.  

The inside of the Key West Garden Club still looks very much like a military fort, except for the motorized wooden chair mounted on the wall.  This was another one of the artworks that can be found all over the island.  
Blue Heaven is our favorite breakfast place in Key West.  This pretty calico was sunning herself on the porch at the entrance of this interesting place.  
The walkway into the restaurant’s courtyard is paved in brick and lined in lush foliage.  

Once inside the courtyard, you are in, well Blue Heaven.  The stage hosts live music, the bar is stocked for breakfast or drinks, and the ground is sand and usually teeming with chickens.

We watched this hen and rooster scratch around while enjoying some of the best banana bread on earth.

Another fun place to eat is Kelly’s Caribbean Bar, Grill & Brewery.  This is in the former headquarters of Pan American Airlines and boasts themselves as the southern most brewery.  It has a wonderful second floor deck/patio we like to sit at while we enjoy its very own beer.  I enjoyed the coconut shrimp and Havana Red Ale.

A great place to eat with a killer view is Turtle Kraals.  We found ourselves at here after a day of wandering around the island, before heading to Mallory Square for the evening entertainment.  

The rooftop views of the boats and the marina can’t be beat.  This is a lovely place to enjoy drinks while the sun sets.

I ordered an amazing meal of mango crab cakes with coconut rice and a creamy, tropical coleslaw.  Heaven on a plate!
Just down the street from the Eden House, is the Help Yourself Cafe & Market.  The menu here is everything healthy – smoothies, salads, wraps, noodle dishes, raw food dishes, and amazing breakfasts. I highly recommend you check this place out, if you get the chance.  If only it were down the street from me now…
But I will have to make do with Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots in the meantime.  

This recipe is so easy – it takes only the above ingredients, and after slicing my carrots, I prepared the rest with only one arm, due to a Greta Monster.  These are a delicious side to any meal, are fast, easy, and cheap!

Lemon Garlic Roasted Carrots
1. Slice 4 to 6 carrots in half, lengthwise and again in half, vertically.  Arrange carrots on a rimmed baking sheet.  Spray with olive oil.  Sprinkle with fresh ground pepper, dried garlic flakes, and lemon juice.  
2.  Bake in a 450 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until softened and sauce is bubbly.