THE RECIPE BOX - Florida dining adventures with a waterfront view

THE RECIPE BOX - Florida dining adventures with a waterfront view

LINCOLN – It’s been a fast moving month with having gone away for 12 glorious days to Florida on a vacation. Jim and I were on a work/play trip.

We had work to do on our family mobile home to maintain the look outdoors, and we are beginning to rehab the interior to update it and ready it for a couple of snowbirds someday …

The last time we were there in May, there was virtually no grass in the front yard due to cars that had trampled it dead. We put up a fence and took a chance on broadcasting a hardy Florida grass seed. Once on a plane back to Rhode Island, we relied only on the hope that an occasional rain shower would do the trick and produce grass.

Three months later, after a late evening flight back to Florida, we were giddy with delight at the two feet of tall grass we now had to cut with our small mower. Be careful what you wish for, a lesson learned!

The “play” part of our vacation was a few trips to the beach, walking in the pure white soft sand picking up seashells and going out to dinner.

One new place we tried was called Eaton’s Beach Sandbar & Grill, located in Weirsdale on Lake Weir. We’ve driven by the sign for it numerous times while on vacation and never got the nerve to try it.

Located on a Florida lake, with outdoor seating, a beach area and entertainment on weekends, it could have gone either way. But we decided to step out into the unknown, take a chance and what a fabulous meal we had.

Bronzed redfish, a bronzed fillet finished with crawfish in a ham cream sauce and served with Balaya rice for $18.99. It came so highly recommended by our very bubbly young waitress that both Jim and I ordered it.

But I had questions … “Are there any eyes, bones or tentacles I need to worry about?” Her answer was a very confident “No ma’m.” The crawfish is completely removed from the shells. I instantly felt better and trusted her.

It was just about sunset that evening and what a spectacular view we had from our outdoor deck seating overlooking this huge lake. It was fully enclosed, so no bugs, birds or creepers.

Cajun cuisine is rustic, relying heavily on smoked and stewed meats and seafood, dishes are richly spiced but not overly spicy. Creole is a more savory combination, a trinity of three peppers – white, black and cayenne – and other spices and herbs. Typically, the peppers are mixed with a salt, paprika, thyme and oregano blend.

Well I do not know which type of sauce I had but it was so much more than a ham sauce. This dish was so intriguing with its layers of spices and flavors that penetrated the senses. It was almost, but not quite, too spicy. I kept wanting more.

We did a little homework and learned that redfish is a common name for several species of fish. It is most commonly applied to certain deep-sea rockfish in the genus Sebastes, or the reef dwelling snappers in the genus Lutjanus. The name, bronzed, was simply their way of cooking the fish, bronzed, not quite blackened.

Redfish or red drum usually are caught along coastal waters. Three-year-old redfish typically weigh six to eight pounds and the smaller ones are better eating. Having said that, we both finished our plates and can not wait to go back.

We had a great time, relaxed and accomplished a few goals. And by the time we got back to Rhode Island, guess whose grass needed cutting?

So now that the summer has almost dwindled away, it’s back-to-school time and with that comes fall recipes. The one I’m sharing for these Monster Cookies is my sister Sandra’s go-to favorite cookie to have at her own get-togethers and take to them as well.

It is originally from but Sandra has altered it a little bit. Her best advice is to not over bake as they sit on the cookie sheet for that extra five minutes before you remove the cookies to a wire cooling rack.

She likes to decorate them with a few extra M&M’s and chocolate chips but she uses only the milk chocolate type. The second day they are even better, she said.

She makes the larger size and said they can almost be eaten for breakfast as they do have peanut butter and oats in them. Enjoy!

Monster Cookies


1&1/2 cups creamy or chunky peanut butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup granulated white sugar

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened

3 large eggs

1 Tbsp. vanilla extract (this is correct!)

4&1/2 cups quick cooking oats

2 tsp. baking soda

1 cup milk chocolate chips

1 cup M&M’s plain chocolate candies


Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray cookie sheets with nonstick spray, or line with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the peanut butter with the sugars and butter. Use an electric mixer to mix until well combined. Mix in the eggs and vanilla. Mix in the oats and baking soda. Then stir in the chips and M&M’s.

Drop the cookies by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared cookie sheets. Dot a few extra M&M’s and chocolate chips on each mound of dough before baking.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Do not over-bake! Cool for 5 minutes on cookie sheets until cookies are set. Transfer to wire racks; cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Note: To make giant cookies, use an ice cream scoop to scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet. They will need to bake for 18 to 20 minutes, and you’ll end up with about 22 cookies.