Critters Around Us!

As Spring comes and vegetation starts to turn green again, so many critters are coming out of hibernation! Some of them, we really don't mind having. But others are just downright scary! I am so glad our dog is a fierce hunter and protector!

A few weeks ago, we saw a rather deep burrow out where the horses' stables are. We were kinda' worried thinking that snakes might be nesting in there, until I saw this fellow hide in the hole. Mystery solved! It was this turtle who made our yard (or at least a part of it) his home!

By the way, this turtle is NOT slow. I was trying to inch closer to get a better shot, but he darted into his hole faster than I can aim my camera at him!

This snake was killed by our dog a few days ago. You can tell that it is a poisonous coral snake (rather than the non-venomous milk snake with the same color markings) because of the pattern of the color. Remember the rhyme "Red and yellow will kill a fellow. Red and black - friend of Jack." To refresh your memory, read this post from several years ago.

It is pretty nerve-wracking to find a snake in your yard, much more a poisonous one. I am always scared for my dog's life. But I have to remember that this is what God made her to be - a hunter. She is just using her God-given skills and abilities. I should be thankful instead that our dog is there to protect us.

Here she is, resting in the shade. When she is not patrolling the yard, she is usually lounging around or barking at trucks that go by our street. ;-)

This squirrel is just happily munching on a leaf. Yep, we verified - it was a leaf. This picture was taken in the park - not in our yard. Squirrels don't stand a chance with our dog around.

Hubby took this picture of a swan by the lake. Here in the US, animals are protected, and so they created a special barricade of sorts for this swan that recently laid eggs. I see this every morning on my way to work, but couldn't take pictures as I was always driving. Good thing hubby did it for me!

I am so glad spring is here! I can't wait for my plants to grow again!


Baked Garlic-Butter Tilapia

Happy Resurrection Day, my friends! Today is the day when Jesus beat death, and oh what a wonderful day! The grave couldn't hold Him - that's my King! I hope you are spending this day with your loved ones, as this is truly a day of victory and celebration for all of us!

Anyway, today's recipe is not what we had for lunch today. This was several dinners ago, but I forgot to post it until I found the picture today. Let me just tell you that I love that we're cooking fish again! It's relatively inexpensive, packed with omega-oils for a healthier brain, and so tasty! This dish is very quick and easy to make, too. I made this in under 30 minutes! One of those "go-to" recipes when you are in a hurry and need something fast!

What you need:

3 tilapia fillets
2 tablespoons butter
4 to 5 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon of dried parsley
dash of paprika
salt and pepper, to taste
lemon for garnish (optional)

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and grease with cooking spray.

In a pan, combine butter, garlic, parsley, salt, pepper and paprika. Cook over medium heat. When butter starts to simmer, remove from heat. 

Place tilapia fillets on greased baking pan and top with the butter mixture. Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on top before serving.

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Don't feel restricted to tilapia. Try other white fish with mild flavors like haddock or halibut.
2. If you don't have cooking spray, use the butter mixture by brushing it on the pan before placing the fish.
3. For added flavor, use a pinch of dillweed.

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Cajun Jambalaya

Hi friends! No, I did not forget you, life just became a bit more hectic lately that I could barely share to the world  what was cooking in my kitchen. But now that I had some free time, look at what I was able to accomplish! *wink* *wink* I hope you like my new blog layout. It took me half a day to figure out how to make things work, and I now have a deeper respect for programmers and website builders. ;-)

Anyway... today's recipe is brought to you by hubby's craving for jambalaya. This is my first time to make it because I always thought it would be easier to order it from our favorite Cajun restaurant. I still think it is, but I love that I can tweak the heat and spices of my home-made jambalaya. 

I followed Emeril's basic recipe from here, but had to make some adjustments to suit our taste (and because I don't have some of the ingredients!). It turned out really, really good - so good we fought for the leftovers!

What you need:

12 medium shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into smaller slices (about 3 cuts per shrimp)
1 small chicken breast (about 6 to 10 ounces)
1/2 pound beef kielbasa sausage, coined
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning (recipe below)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  
1/2 cup coarsely chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup sliced green bell pepper
5 large cloves of garlic, roughly minced
1 cup Roma tomato, diced (about 1 large tomato)
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Sriracha
1 cup rice
3 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper, to taste

What to do:

Combine shrimp, chicken and seasoning (just one tablespoon!) in a bowl and mix well. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside in the fridge.

Heat a large pot or saucepan, saute onion, garlic and pepper over high heat. Add tomatoes bay leaves, Sriracha, and Worcestershire sauce. Add in rice and broth. Reduce heat to medium until rice becomes tender, stirring occasionally (about 15 minutes or so). Add the shrimp-chicken mixture and sausage. Cook for about 10 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, plus a bit of Creole seasoning. Stir, remove from heat and serve.

Creole Seasoning ingredients:

2 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon Cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1/2 tablespoon dried parsley

Combine everything in a container and mix well.    

Tips, Tricks and Tweaks:

1. Emeril's recipe for Creole Seasoning (or Bayou Blast!) calls for dried thyme. I used dried parsley instead.
2. Try seafood jambalaya! Or just meat (for those with seafood allergies). Next time I make this, I am gonna skip the chicken and use a pound of sausage instead.
3. Use long grain rice. I used short-grain because that is all we have in stock. So my jambalaya rice is a bit soft and sticky.
4. Substitute Sriracha with Tabasco or your favorite hot sauce.
5. Want more heat? Double the amount of Sriracha!

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