Thursday, June 27, 2013

Selling a Used Smart Phone

I have discovered that quality used smart phones can be resold in a variety of ways. I just sold my unlocked Samsung Galaxy S2 SGH-I777 on eBay for $182.50.

The following are some of the ways I found to sell a smart phone, with the price currently offered for my model:
- - this fantastic site lets you compare offers from many buyers. The best price offered here was $109.70
- - $60
- AT&T - $100 rebate
- Best Buy - $54 (Might have been more, but phone had a slight flaw - which I mentioned in my eBay ad.)

My phone probably got a better price because it was unlocked (i.e., it could be used with other carriers than AT&T, from whom I purchased it.) AT&T helped me to unlock several months after I purchased it.

Be sure to remove all personal information before reselling the phone. With the Samsung, that is easy to do by doing a hard reset. I tested the phone after the hard reset. I confirmed that the data had been removed and that the phone was still unlocked. 

(My new phone is a Galaxy S4, which I purchased at for $168, with a $50 gift card, which brought the price down to $118. That price required a 2-year AT&T contract.)

Sarasota Ale House - Great Lobster Dinner Special

Every Wednesday evening, Sarasota Ale House (, which is part of the Miller Ale House chain, offers a Maine lobster dinner for $12.95!!! The dinner includes a 1&1/4 pound lobster, choice of one side dish, and coleslaw. For an extra $2, you can add crab and lobster stuffing.

Seven of us had the lobster dinner, and loved it. In fact, one of our group loved the lobster so much, he had a second one.

I had onion rings with mine, and they were excellent.

Their drinks seemed reasonably priced. My wife's gin & tonic was $2.95, and my Greg Norman Malbec was $6.95 per glass.

They do not take reservations, but will put you on a waiting list if you call a half hour or so in advance.

It was already crowded when we arrived at 5 pm.

The Ale House is located at 3800 Kenny Drive, at the intersection of Bee Ridge and Cattleman Rd., a stone's throw from exit 207 of I-75.

We are grateful to our friends M & T, who visit Sarasota each year, for tipping us off to this, and other wonderful dining experiences.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

New Orleans Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce.

We love this New Orleans Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. It is addictive. I found the recipe, based on a recipe from the Bon Ton Café, at

It serves about 10 diners


Bourbon Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup Kentucky bourbon whiskey (I used Southern Comfort, which was invented in New Orleans. I only used 3/4 cup.)
Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf French bread, at least a day old, cut into 1-inch squares (about 6-7 cups) (I used about 8 cups.)
  • 1 qt milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup raisins (soaked overnight in 1/4 cup bourbon - I used Southern Comfort.)
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Bourbon Sauce:

In a saucepan, melt butter; add sugar and egg, whisking to blend well. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens. (Do not allow to simmer, or it may curdle.) Whisk in bourbon to taste. Remove from heat. Whisk before serving. The sauce should be soft, creamy, and smooth. (It did not thicken until I put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.)

Bread Pudding:

1 Preheat oven to 350°F.

2 Soak the bread in milk in a large mixing bowl. Press with hands until well mixed and all the milk is absorbed. In a separate bowl, beat eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices together. Gently stir into the bread mixture. Gently stir the raisins into the mixture.

3 Pour butter into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking pan. Coat the bottom and the sides of the pan well with the butter. Pour in the bread mix and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes, until set. The pudding is done when the edges start getting a bit brown and pull away from the edge of the pan. Can also make in individual ramekins.

Serve with bourbon whiskey sauce on the side; pour on to taste. Best fresh and eaten the day it is made.

New Orleans Creole Gumbo

I love this Creole Gumbo recipe which I found at It serves 20 people. I made it for a dinner for 7 people, so we have been having lots of leftovers. I cooked the gumbo a day in advance and refrigerated it. Since the recipe is so large, I had to use a very large pan that we used to use to steam blue crabs.


(Bacon drippings are called for in 2 parts of the recipe below. I did not have enough so I used a combination of butter and bacon drippings. I used the butter in a 1 to 1 ratio.)

- 1 cup all-purpose flour

- ¾ cup bacon drippings

- 1 cup coarsely chopped celery

- 1 large onion, coarsely chopped

- 1 large green pepper coarsely chopped

- 2 cloves garlic, minced

- 1 pound Andouille sausage, sliced (I used a 12-ounce package from Trader Joe's. I also noticed that Publix carries a 1-pound package of Johnsonville, New Orleans-style Andouille sausage.)

- 3 quarts water

- 6 cubes beef bouillon

- 1 tablespoon white sugar

- salt to taste

- 2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco sauce), or to taste

- ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning blend, or to taste (Publix carries it.)

- 4 bay leaves

- ½ teaspoon dried thyme leaves

- 1 (14.5 oz. can) stewed tomatoes

- 1 (6 oz. can) tomato sauce

- 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder (Publix carries it.)

- 2 tablespoons bacon drippings

- 2 (10 ounce) packages frozen cut okra, thawed

- 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar

- 1 pound lump crabmeat

- 3 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

- 2 teaspoons gumbo file powder

1. Make a roux by whisking the flour and 3/4 cup bacon drippings together in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat to form a smooth mixture. Cook the roux, whisking constantly, until it turns a rich mahogany brown color. This can take 20 to 30 minutes; watch heat carefully and whisk constantly or roux will burn. Remove from heat; continue whisking until mixture stops cooking.

2. Place the celery, onion, green bell pepper, and garlic into the work bowl of a food processor, and pulse until the vegetables are very finely chopped. Stir the vegetables into the roux, and mix in the sausage. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium-low heat, and cook until vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.

3. Bring the water and beef bouillon cubes to a boil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot. Stir until the bouillon cubes dissolve, and whisk the roux mixture into the boiling water. Reduce heat to a simmer, and mix in the sugar, salt, hot pepper sauce, Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, thyme, stewed tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Simmer the soup over low heat for 1 hour; mix in 2 teaspoons of file gumbo powder at the 45-minute mark.

4. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of bacon drippings in a skillet, and cook the okra with vinegar over medium heat for 15 minutes; remove okra with slotted spoon, and stir into the simmering gumbo. Mix in crabmeat, shrimp, and Worcestershire sauce, and simmer until flavors have blended, 45 more minutes. Just before serving, stir in 2 more teaspoons of file gumbo powder.

Crab Ravigote

Crab Ravigote is understandably one of the most popular appetizers in New Orleans. It is very easy and fast to make, but a bit costly because it requires a pound of jumbo lump crab meat. There are many variations of this recipe. The one below appealed most to me. It serves 8. I served it in ramekins on top of a couple of pieces of romaine lettuce. "Ravigote" comes from the French verb, "ravigoter," which means to refresh, revive, resurrect. Originally ,the sauce was used to save crab meat or fish that was on the edge of freshness.

I found the recipe at


- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon of Creole mustard
- 1/4 cup whipping cream
- 1 green onion, tender green parts only, finely sliced
- 3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley), leaves only, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon dill
- 1/2 teaspoon tarragon
- pinch white pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 dash Tabasco sauce
- 2 tablespoons small capers
- 1 pound lump crab meat (I used jumbo lump.)


1. Combine all ingredients except crab meat, and mix with a wire whisk.

2. Add the crab meat and very carefully toss. (Careful so as not to break up the lumps of crab.) It's best to let it sit for an hour or two before serving. (I let it sit in the refrigerator for about 4 hours.)

Cajun Spiced Pecans

The first appetizer I served with my recent New Orleans dinner was Cajun Spiced Pecans. This dish is very easy to make and was very popular. There were no leftovers. The cayenne pepper gives it a little bit of a kick. It should serve about 8 people.

I found the recipe at: The recipe is reportedly from Susan Spicer's Bayona restaurant in New Orleans (

- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cups pecan halves
- 4 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon & 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper


Preheat oven to 325 degrees

Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saucepan. Add the pecans and sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the pecans. Stir everything together and make sure to coat them evenly with the butter and spices. Pour the coated pecans onto a baking sheet or jelly roll pan covered with foil or parchment paper. (I used parchment paper.) Spread the pecans out in a single layer.

Bake for 10 minutes, until lightly toasted. (I found that 10 minutes was not long enough in our oven. I added another two minutes, and they turned out just right.)

Cool completely. Remove from the baking sheet with a metal spoon.

Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for a few days (or in the freezer for a few weeks.)

Monday, June 24, 2013

A New Orleans Dinner (Mostly)

Last Saturday evening, I made a New Orleans-style dinner for special friends. I was very happy with the results. I'll post the menu here, and do a separate post for each of the dishes. The menu was:

Appetizer 1 - Cajun Spiced Pecans

Appetizer 2 - Crab Ravigote

Main dish - Creole Gumbo over Rice

Side - Cornbread (I used a tried and true southern cornbread recipe rather than a New Orleans cornbread, even though I found a recipe for New Orleans cornbread.)

Dessert - New Orleans Bread Pudding.

All of these dishes are delicious keepers.

The wines I served were:

Korbel Brut California Sparkling Wine, made in Methode Champenoise style.

Cren del Ape Cortese from the Piedmont Region of Northwest Italy. This is a nice, very inexpensive white summer wine. (Cren del Ape means, "Bee Ridge." The Cortese grape is principally grown in northwest Italy.)

2009 Siltstone Oregon Pinot Gris for the white wine drinkers

Campo al Mare Bolgheri red wine from the Maremma area of Tuscany (60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon, & 20% Cabernet Franc)

All of the wines were very nice.

I created a CD of lively Cajun songs, which I purchased at I played these songs during the meal.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Delicious & Easy Chicken Cordon Bleu

So it's 5:30 p.m., and I have no idea what I'm going to prepare for dinner, except that my wife would like it to include watermelon and Florida blueberries, which are in season. I glance through the latest edition of Cooking Light, but find nothing I feel like making. Then, I look at the Publix weekly ad and see that chicken breasts are on sale. I Google "chicken breast recipes." I click on the second hit - Up pops a page full of very popular chicken breast recipes. Chicken Cordon Bleu II ( catches my eye - it is a five-star recipe with 3,515 reviews.

My first reaction is that it's probably really good, but probably too hard to make. Then I read the directions and see that it looks very easy. On top of that, the web page with the recipe also has a link to a video on how to prepare it. Great! That's my choice for an entrée. For a side, I choose one of my favorites - Green Bean & Mushroom Medley ( I immediately head out to Publix and get all the ingredients I need. I come home and prepare both dishes, along with the watermelon  & blueberries. The Cordon Bleu recipe turns out to be as easy and delicious as it sounds, particularly with a little help from the video. Thanks again to

The Cordon Bleu recipe serves 6. Since there were only two of us, I cut the number of chicken breast halves, slices of Swiss cheese, and slices of ham to three each. I left all of the other ingredients the same. The recipe takes about an hour to prepare.


- 6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 6 slices Swiss cheese
- 6 slices ham
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 6 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream


1. Pound chicken breasts if they are too thick. (To avoid splashing bits of chicken and fluid while pounding the chicken, place the breasts in a plastic storage bag.) Place a cheese and ham slice on each breast to within half an inch of the edges. Roll the chicken breasts with the ham and cheese inside. Secure each breast with a toothpick. Mix the flour and paprika in a small bowl, and then coat the chicken breasts with this mixture.

2. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook the chicken until browned on all sides. Add the wine and bouillon. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes, until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.

3. Remove the toothpicks and transfer the chicken breasts to a warm platter. Blend the cornstarch with the cream in a small bowl, and whisk slowly into the skillet. Cook, stirring until thickened, and pour over the chicken. Serve warm.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A Nice Shrimp Scampi Recipe

There are a number of variations of shrimp scampi, which appears to be an Italian-American recipe. Some of the common ingredients are shrimp, butter, olive oil, and white wine. It is often served over pasta.

("Scampi" is not the Italian word for "shrimp," but the Italian plural for Norway lobsters.)

I've tried two shrimp scampi recipes - one from ( and one from ( I prefer the one from epicurious, although both are nice.

The following recipe is the one from epicurious. It serves four and is easy to make.


- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 pound peeled and deveined large raw shrimp. (I used medium shrimp because they were on sale)
- 4 large garlic cloves left unpeeled and forced through a garlic press (I peeled them and minced them because I don't have a garlic press.)
- 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes
- 1/2 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2/3 pound capellini (angel-hair pasta)
- 1/2 cup chopped, fresh, flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley)


Bring 6- to 8-quart pot of salted water to a boil

Meanwhile, heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot, but not smoking. Then  sauté shrimp, turning over once, until just cooked through - about 2 minutes. Then use a slotted spoon to transfer the shrimp to a bowl.

Add the garlic to the oil remaining in the skillet. Also add the red pepper flakes, wine, salt, and pepper. Cook over high heat for 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Add butter to skillet, stirring until melted, and stir in shrimp. Remove skillet from heat.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until just tender, about 3 minutes. (I did 4 minutes.) Reserve 1 cup of the pasta-cooking water, then drain the pasta in a colander.

Put the pasta, shrimp mixture, and parsley into a large bowl and toss. If necessary, add some of the reserved cooking water to keep the pasta moist.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Heather's Grilled Salmon - Another Nice & Easy Salmon Recipe

This another fast and easy salmon recipe. The preparation and cooking are fast, but at least an hour is required for marinating the salmon. I found this recipe at ( It is similar to an earlier salmon recipe I posted (, but I like this one better because of the spices.

This recipe serves four, but I adjusted the amount of salmon to serve two. I did not change the other ingredients. I did cook it on a grill pan on our gas stove, rather than on the grill.


1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 teaspoons lemon pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets


Whisk together the brown sugar, olive oil, soy sauce, lemon pepper, thyme, basil, parsley, and garlic powder in a bowl, and pour into a resealable plastic bag.  Add the salmon fillets, coat with marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour, turning occasionally.

Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat, and lightly oil the grate. Remove the salmon from the marinade, and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. (Actually, I poured some of the leftover marinade on the salmon when I put it onto the grill pan.)

3. Grill the salmon on the preheated grill until browned and the fish flakes easily with a fork - about 5 minutes on each side.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Hungarian Mushroom Soup - Love It

I set out to see if I could find a recipe that would produce something equivalent to a take-out soup often sold in Fresh Market's deli section. We've had it a number of times and love it. That soup is called, "Hungarian Onion Soup," even though mushrooms are more apparent than onions. I found a great and easy Hungarian Mushroom Soup recipe on ( The results were wonderful and seemed fairly close to the Fresh Market product. It takes about 50 minutes total time to prepare and serve.

I made a couple of small changes:
- I used 12 ounces of mushrooms instead of a pound because that was the size of the package sold at Publix.
- I did not use chopped fresh parsley, which I'm sure would have made the soup even better.

- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups chopped onions (I used a red onion)
- 1 pound fresh mushrooms, slice (I used 12 oz. white mushrooms)
- 2 teaspoons dried dill weed
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 2 cups chicken broth
- 1 cup milk
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ground black pepper to taste
- 2 teaspoons lemon juice
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- 1/2 cup sour cream


1. Melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Sauté the onions in the butter for 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the dill, paprika, soy sauce, and broth. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk the milk and flour together. Pour this into the soup and stir well to blend. Cover and simmer for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Finally, stir in the salt, ground black pepper, lemon juice, parsley, and sour cream. Mix together and allow to heat through over low heat, about 3 to 5 minutes. Do not boil. Serve immediately.