Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, July 22, 2019

Grilled Bloody Mary New York Strip Steaks served with Asparagus Nectarine Salad

I love trying the recipes, which are the Publix sales papers each week.  As an added bonus, Publix provides the recipe cards along with a small notebook where you can keep your favorites.  This recipe is based on last week's offering.

I jazzed up the marinade a bit and substituted asparagus for green beans in the salad. Choose whichever you prefer.

For the marinade:
Juice of one lemon
1/2 cup spicy V-8
2 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. celery salt
a few grinds of black pepper
1 - 2 dashes hot sauce
1 t. minced garlic

1 1/2 lb. New York Strip, ribeye, or top sirloin
1/4 cup blue cheese crumbles

Combine marinade ingredients in a medium bowl. Pour one-half of the marinade in a large zip-top bag. Set remaining marinade aside.  Add steaks to the container; knead to coat and let stand for 15 minutes (or overnight) to marinate.  

Preheat grill or grill pan.

Remove steaks from the bag and discard the marinade.  Grill steaks 3 - 4 minutes on each side or until grill-marked and 125 degrees F. for medium-rare; 130 F. degrees for medium or up to 170 degrees F. for well done.

Let stand 3 - 4 minutes before slicing.  Sprinkle steak slices evenly with cheese.  Serve with reserved sauce on the side for dipping.

Now let's prepare that delicious and healthy salad!

12 - 16 oz. green beans or asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 fresh nectarines, diced
1/2 cup sun-dried julienne cut tomatoes
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese
1/2 t. salt
slivered almonds (optional)
golden raisins (optional)
1 (7.5 oz.) Blue cheese or Gorgonzola salad kit (it will include a vinaigrette)

Steam or microwave green beans or asparagus. Set aside to cool.  

Place all ingredients in a large salad bowl. Toss to coat and serve.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

One Skillet Meal: Creamy Chicken and Vegetables

It's time to try another one of the new flavor packets that McCormick sent to me.  A one skillet meal for chicken and your choice of vegetables.  The flavor profile for this one includes thyme, rosemary, and black pepper.  

The instructions suggested using boneless skinless chicken breasts. I wanted to make this dish as kid friendly as possible, so I used chicken tenderloins and cut them into 1 inch cubes. The chicken browned much faster (so the entire meal was ready to eat in a flash!), and you can choose your family's favorite vegetables.  I used sliced white mushrooms, french cut green beans, and broccoli florets.  

2 T. butter, divided
1 1/2 lb. chicken tenderloins, cubed into 1 inch pieces
2 - 3 cups of your favorite vegetables (I used French cut green beans, mushrooms, broccoli florets)
1 McCormick One Skillet Creamy Chicken and Vegetables spice packet
1 cup milk
Serve over rice or noodles if desired

In a large skillet over high heat, melt 1 T. of butter.  Add cubed chicken and cook until well browned.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium high.  Melt remaining 1 T. butter in skillet and add vegetables.  Stir until tender-crisp (4 - 5 minutes).

Add seasoning packet and milk and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until sauce begins to thicken.

Add chicken back into skillet and let cook for another minute or two.

Ready to serve!

Can't wait to try this one again with a different mixture of vegetables. This was a very easy, but very tasty meal!

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sheet Pan Supper: Farmer's Market Pork and Vegetables

The McCormick Seasoning Company has debuted a new line of sheet pan seasoning packets.  One of the best things about them is you choose which vegetables you'd like.  Suggestions are given on the packet such as bell peppers, zucchini, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, etc.  Even though this particular item is labeled as for "chicken," pork or salmon were suggested as substitutions.  

The seasoning includes garlic, onion, paprika, parsley, oregano, etc.  It was an excellent blend of herbs and spices.

This is an excellent weeknight meal plan. I know I really stress the importance of weeknight meals.  While the oven was preheating, I chopped my choice of vegetables and when the preheating timer did its ding, I was ready to place the sheet pan in the oven. Thirty minutes later dinner is ready. Seriously, how easy is that?

1 pkg. McCormick seasoning 
3 T. vegetable oil
1 1/2 lbs. boneless chicken or pork
4 cups assorted fresh vegetables, cut into 1-inch chunks 
(I used yellow squash, broccoli florets, and asparagus)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Mix seasoning mix and oil in a large bowl.  

Add chicken (or pork) and vegetables and toss to coat.  Place in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet that's been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Bake for 30 minutes or until chicken (or pork) is cooked through.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

I continue to improve after my hospital stay although I'm still having some not so good days.  The New Orleans grandsons are visiting for a few days and Grandson #1 requested sausage gumbo. I decided today was the day to give it a whirl. I must say, I do believe this is the best gumbo I've ever made.  

You can use your favorite smoked sausage, but my all time forever favorite is Conecuh from Evergreen, Alabama.

6 cups chicken broth
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. chicken breasts
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 green bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped (include some of the celery leaves if possible)
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 lb. smoked sausage, sliced
2 t. (or to taste) Cajun seasoning
16 oz. frozen sliced (unbreaded) okra
2 bay leaves
cooked white rice
chopped parsley

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven bring chicken broth to a gentle boil and place chicken breasts in broth. Lower to a simmer and let chicken cook while you prep the vegetables.  After all the vegetables are chopped, place in a large bowl.

Now it's time to make the roux.  In a large skillet (preferably cast iron), add flour and vegetable oil. Set the heat to medium-high and CONTINUALLY stir the flour and oil while it browns. I cooked mine for about 20 minutes. Most of the time for chicken/sausage gumbo the roux is dark brown, almost chocolate colored, but I wasn't up to standing for that length of time, so mine was a nice peanut butter color and it worked just fine!

When the roux reaches the color you want, add all the vegetables at once. Be careful because there may be some splattering of the roux and it will be HOT. As soon as the vegetables are in the roux, stir quickly to coat the vegetables. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, for about 4 - 5 minutes.

By this time your chicken should be cooked. Remove from broth and place on a plate to cool. Add the roux and vegetables to the broth.

Wipe out the skillet and add the sliced sausage and cook until well browned. Drain well and add to the Dutch oven and stir to combine. Lower to a simmer.

Chop or shred chicken and add to the Dutch oven.  Next, add the Cajun seasoning, bay leaves, and okra. Cover and let cook 2 - 3 hours over low heat. Stir occasionally.

Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve over white rice and top with chopped parsley.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Pork, Vegetable, and Lentil Soup

After a few days in the hospital and several more days recuperating at home, I was ready to attempt to prepare a meal. A pot of soup seemed a good place to start.

Once again, a well-stocked freezer, refrigerator, and pantry paid off. No trip to the grocery store was needed.  I had everything I needed and made the recipe up as I went along.

1 T. olive oil
3 boneless pork chops, sliced and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
3 ribs celery, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 cup dried lentils
3 - 4 cups of water
2 t. Better than Bouillon Ham Base
2 bay leaves
a few grinds black pepper
1 - 2 T. EACH chopped fresh parsley and basil
grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

In a medium Dutch oven (4 quarts), heat olive oil, over medium-high heat. Add cubed pork, and stirring frequently, brown well.  Add onions, carrots, and celery and stir to combine. Let vegetables soften for 3 - 4 minutes and then garlic and diced tomatoes. Bring to a gentle boil.

Add lentils, water, and ham base. Add bay leaves.  Reduce heat so that soup is simmering. The lentils will only need about 25 - 30 minutes to cook. If you want a thicker "stew" let the liquid reduce. If you want soup, add water as needed.  

Add a few grinds of black pepper and taste. Remove bay leaves. With the ham base, salt is usually not needed. Stir in the chopped parsley and basil just before serving.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Dining Out on the Outer Banks: The Fish Hook Grill, Harkers Island, NC

We've finally reached the last restaurant on our OBX journey.  We've enjoyed fresh seafood in neighborhood restaurants, fine dining establishments, those who are somewhat new, and those who have had a following for years.

It was fitting that we have our last seafood meal on the Outerbanks at The Fish Hook Grill on Harkers Island, NC.  You can find them on FB.  

We left Ocracoke Island EARLY for a 2 1/2 hour ferry ride to see the Cape Lookout lighthouse before leaving for home.  Needless to say, we were starving when we arrived a little before lunchtime at The Fish Hook Grill.

When we pulled into the parking lot, I already knew we had chosen wisely.

Isn't this great?

The interior was cozy and welcoming.

Devon was our server, and she was excellent. She offered suggestions and explanation to my questions about the menu. We were the only diners when we entered, but that didn't last very long. By the time we were finished with our meal, people were waiting for tables!

Devon promptly brought our sweet teas (and they were great!) along with some hushpuppies to nibble while we looked over the menu. These can be ordered as a side for $1.99.  Still a little sweeter than I'm used to, but delicious nonetheless.

This was my LAST opportunity for OBX crab.  But I also wanted fried oysters. The "mini crab bites" were actually small flatter versions of a crab cake.  $9.99 Bring them on!

These were a little larger than the average size sausage patty. Cooked on a flattop grill (I believe?), the exterior was the perfect crunchy version that I love. Absolutely non-greasy and served with a creamy dipping sauce which carried a little heat. I requested a few lemon wedges to squeeze over the crab bites.
 Now, look at the inside of these babies. No heavy seasoning, so the mild taste of the crab was evident. The Fish Hook Grill tied for 1st Place on our "Best Of" List for crab.  And deservedly so.

I could eat this every day.  But instead of ordering another order of these little crab bites, I was ready for oysters!

I know the month of May has no "Rs." I do not care. I could eat THESE every single day.  Sometimes you order fried oysters, and they are all about the size of a quarter.  And yes, I'm one of those people who think if that day's oysters are small, throw in a few extra for good measure. More on that in just a minute.

I dislike heavy breading on seafood in any form. I want to taste the fish or shellfish, not the breading. You can see from the photo that this a very light breading and they are fried perfectly. They were removed from the oil, not a second too early nor too late. And none of that "old oil" taste which means the kitchen hasn't changed the oil in far too long. These were delicious.  Lunch portion $11.99  Dinner portion $17.99

Remember, when I talked about the size of the oysters? I was amazed at these. So much in fact, before I even took a bite, I wanted to make sure y'all had a point of reference so you could be amazed like me.  Look at this oyster placed next to my fork.

A loud round of applause for the oyster fryer at The Fish Hook Grill.  I will dream of these.

Now, look at the surprise which survived not only the shucking of the oyster but a trip through the fryer! A tiny, tiny pearl! Absolutely perfect! Devon was as excited as I was and quickly brought me an empty salad dressing container so I could bring it safely home.

If any of you want to read the lines on my palm, send me a message and let me know what you see!

Of course, we all know what Sweet Harold ordered....fried shrimp! As with the oysters, the breading was light and delicate, the seasoning was spot on, and they were perfectly fried. Lunch portion $8.99 Dinner portion $16.99

Here are the ratings on our "Best Of" list

Best Fried Shrimp
Best Oysters
Tie for #1 for Best Crab Cakes

A grateful thank you to The Fish Hook Grill for an amazing and fun lunch and a special thanks to Devon who I hope to see again someday!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Dining Out on the Outer Banks: The Flying Melon, Ocracoke Island, NC

We started our trip with an exceptional dining experience at Curate, and we enjoyed an excellent dining meal for our last night on the Outer Banks.

The Flying Melon Cafe offers Creole and Southern Cuisine prepared with fresh ingredients and local seafood.

We arrived just as they opened and, in fact, we were the first diners of the evening! Jennifer was our server and directed us through the menu along with the great specials of the night menu.  While we perused the menus, we enjoyed a Long Island Iced Tea and a Cucumber Basil Martini.  Both were perfection.

We chose fried green tomatoes with shrimp remoulade $12.00. The fried green tomatoes were expertly fried, extraordinarily crunchy and well seasoned.  They would have been excellent on their own. But then The Flying Melon tops those delicious slices with perfectly cooked shrimp and a flavorful remoulade.  The best appetizer of the trip!

Oh my.  Now here's a salad that I wish I could eat every day! The rice wine vinaigrette was absolutely addictive on the fresh greens and vegetables of this salad.

Sweet Harold chose the Fried Seafood Platter $33.00.  It included the fish of the day (bluefish), scallops (YUM!), shrimp, and a jumbo lump crab cake.  I had never tried bluefish, so I was eager for my taste!  Bluefish has a rich, full flavor and coarse, moist meat with edible skin.  The crab cake had onions and bell peppers and a definite spicy flavor. I love food with some heat, but for those that don't, the crab cake does pack the flavor.

His side dishes were sauteed green beans and roasted red potatoes. Of all the green beans we enjoyed that week, these won the "best of" award.  The potatoes were very flavorful as well.

I ordered from the Specials Menu.  Seriously.  Look at this menu.  Is there anything on there that doesn't sound amazing?

Sheepshead is another fish I have never tried.  I wasn't going to miss an opportunity to enjoy this fish.  Sheepshead eats crab and shrimp.  Therefore, they have the taste of shellfish.  Pretty cool, huh?

The fish was grilled and topped with sauteed jumbo lump crabmeat and a tasty lemon beurre blanc sauce. $34.00 I chose the turnips and roasted potatoes.  

I took a close up shot of the jumbo lump crab.  This was an extremely generous portion. Everything on this plate was elegantly served, delicately seasoned, and a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy.

And if we weren't stuffed enough at this point, Sweet Harold decided we MUST try dessert.  I told him to choose whatever he wanted, and I'd taste.  lol

Kudos to the pastry chef for this delectable dessert.  Lemon cheesecake with blackberry sauce.  The cheesecake was creamy and the blackberry sauce complimented the lemon well. $6.00.

Sweet Harold ordered a chocolate martini to enjoy with his dessert.  We had a great evening.

And here are the categories which The Flying Melon placed on our informal "best of" list!

Best Cocktails

Best Salad
Best Green Beans

Best Crab:  for the sauteed jumbo lump crab
Honorable Mention: crab cake 

Best Fish:  Sheepshead
Honorable Mention:  Bluefish

Best Atmosphere
Best Meal Overall

Thank you for a wonderful evening and meal.  Special thank you to Jennifer for being an excellent server.  

Dining Out on the Outer Banks: The Pony Island Restaurant, Ocracoke Island, NC

We were fortunate to stay at the Pony Island Motel on Ocracoke Island. Of course, we HAD to eat breakfast the next morning at the Pony Island Restaurant.  They are only open for breakfast and knew this would be a very casual breakfast. We were fortunate to have Kathy as our server.  She never let the coffee cup get empty!

Sweet Harold enjoyed these fluffy biscuits along with scrambled eggs, sausage patties, and grits.

I chose two eggs cooked over easy (I always order scrambled). I was a little nervous about how they would be cooked, but these were perfection! No crunchy browned edges, no hard cooked yolks, just a delicious perfectly cooked over easy eggs.  The hashbrowns (or home fries) were nicely browned and tender on the inside.

Pony Island Restaurant is only open for breakfast at 7:30 - 11:00 a.m. If you are lucky, you'll have Kathy as your server!

Dining Out on the Outer Banks: Jason's, Ocracoke Island, NC

Ocracoke (pronounced Okra-coke) Island, NC is a beautiful and wonderful spot on this earth.  It's a small village with the beautiful 1823 Ocracoke Lighthouse located on Pamlico Sound.  I'll be doing additional blog posts with pictures of the area and attractions, but this post will sing the praises of Jason's.  Click on that link and check out their great menu!

We were given this recommendation by the manager of our motel and we're certainly glad he did.  Jason's serves subs, pasta, steak, pizza, and seafood.  The night we dined, there was a mixed crowd of locals and visitors.  If you have kids, you'll be fine.  You have a group of fun friends who are on vacation? You'll fit right in with the diners here. We overheard one gentleman at a neighboring table say he had been there the night before for a steak and it was so perfect, he was back that night to have another!  The "starch of the day" was corn on the cob. We observed this corn on the cob with other diners' meals were delivered.  This was none of that little frozen half cob yellow corn. These were normal people servings of corn on the cob and looked delicious.

Y'all know how important it is to me personally to be greeted well when you enter a restaurant. For me, that sets the tone for the entire meal. A Host/Hostess which appears to be bothered by having to seat you, or irritated that you interrupted their texting, well, that doesn't sit well with Lolly.

Thankfully, Daniel our server for the evening graciously welcomed us and made us feel "at home."

I was in the mood for comfort food.  But here was my situation.  I wanted to continue to try crab in as many restaurants as possible while on the Outer Banks.  I consulted with Daniel and explained that I really wanted to try the Angel Hair Pasta with Alfredo, but oh I really wanted to have one of their crab cakes.

Daniel to the rescue! He asked the kitchen if they would prepare just one crab cake for me.  They agreed.  I had the best of both worlds! On our "best of" list, this crab cake tied for #1!

This crab cake had a great crunchy exterior and a light crab filled interior.  Very little filling and the seasoning was perfect. I loved the tartar sauce as well.  Not just a condiment to fill up space on the plate, this sauce should be bottled.

Now we'll move on to the pasta dish.  I did mention I was craving some comfort food.  Well, this PLATTER was an enormous serving of that very thing. There was enough with this generous serving to feed three people.  $15.99 and served with garlic bread and a side salad.  You can also choose to add spinach, chicken, or shrimp for an additional small upcharge.  The angel hair pasta was a perfect al dente and the homemade sauce was a ooey gooey cheesy serving of heaven. I enjoyed the toasted garlic bread as well.

The side salad was filled with fresh mushrooms, red onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes. The Italian dressing was a great choice.

One of the specials of the night featured Cobia.  Cobia has a very white flaky texture and a mild flavor.  Sweet Harold chose to have it fried with slaw and french fries.  Again, a very generous serving.  It's always great to know the food you are enjoying is this fresh. The catch of the day is literally what was caught nearby! The breading was extremely light so the flavor of the fish wasn't hidden behind a thick batter.  I had a sample and I can tell you if you're ever at Jason's and cobia is on the menu, Order It!  

Jason's coleslaw is the chopped version instead of shredded cabbage.  Lightly dressed and very fresh and crunch. This serving wasn't prepared days before.

Sweet Harold ordered a beer from a nearby brewery, 1718 Brewing Ocracoke.  He looks pleased!

From our own personal "best of" list, Jason placed with a #1 tie for best crab cakes, honorable mention for the cobia in the fish category, and honorable mention for that delicious salad.

Thank you Jason's for a wonderful dinner and a special thank you to Daniel for great service and going the extra step to get me that delicious crab cake!

Our score?  10/10 based on food quality, atmosphere, service, and a wide variety of food from which to choose on the menu.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Dining Out on the Outer Banks: Diamond Shoals Restaurant and Seafood Market, Buxton, NC

Time for breakfast before continuing on our journey down the Outer Banks.  We chose the Diamond Shoals Restaurant and Sushi Bar located about a mile from the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.  This restaurant has it all!  Not only do they serve breakfast, but they also have a great lunch menu featuring seafood baskets, wraps, quesadillas, burgers, and sandwiches.  Diamond Shoals also offers an extensive dinner menu PLUS they have a sushi bar.  On top of all this, there's a gift shop and a seafood market!  It's literally a one-stop for all meals, fresh seafood, and your souvenirs!  

Sweet Harold gave two thumbs up for his sausage and cheese omelette and home fries.  

I had some scrambled eggs with cheese, toast, and home fries.  The menu lists the potatoes as hashbrowns, but these aren't the hashbrowns to which we are accustomed.  The eggs were yummy, the potatoes were cooked with sliced onions and all in all we enjoyed our breakfast.