Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, December 16, 2018

German Chocolate Cake

This is the classic German Chocolate Cake recipe that's been on the Baker's German Chocolate box forever. You'll certainly make a great impression when you present this one for dessert to your family and friends!

Take a few minutes and get all the prep work done before you begin mixing everything together. The process will go much easier if you have everything ready to go as you follow the step by step instructions.

1 pkg. (4 oz.) Baker's German Sweet Chocolate
1/2 cup water
4 eggs, separated
2 cups flour
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
1 t. vanilla 
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cover bottoms of 3 (9-inch) round pans with parchment.  Spray side with cooking spray.  Microwave chocolate and water in a large microwaveable bowl on high 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 minute.  Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Beat egg whites in a small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form, set aside.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt.  Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each.  Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla.  Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

Add egg whites, stir gently until well blended.  Pour into prepared pans.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean.  Immediately run a small spatula around cakes in pans.  Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire racks, cool completely.

Prepare Coconut Pecan Frosting.

4 egg yolks
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
1 1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 pkg. (7 oz.) Baker's Angel Flake Coconut
1 1/2 cup chopped pecans

Beat egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until blended.

Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 minutes, or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly.

Remove from heat and add coconut and pecans.

Cool to desired spreading consistency.

Makes enough to frost top and sides of three 8" or 9" cake layers, tops of two 9 x 13 cakes, or tops of 36 cupcakes.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Skillet Pork Chops with Onion and Mushroom Gravy

This is another one of those delicious one-skillet meals that can be prepared in less than an hour and is the perfect weeknight meal.  Plus, this is comfort food at its finest.

You'll need 4 boneless pork chops. They will cook more quickly and evenly and for this meal, you can either make your own gravy or use one of those essential pantry staples, McCormick Pork Gravy.  

1 lb. boneless pork chops
freshly ground black pepper
onion powder
granulated garlic
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, peeled, cut in half and thinly sliced
8 oz. white mushrooms, sliced
2 packages McCormick pork gravy mix
2 cups water
chopped parsley for garnish

Lightly salt and pepper the pork chops and sprinkle with onion powder and granulated garlic.

Heat olive oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Place pork chops in oil and sear on each side 2 - 3 minutes.

Remove from skillet, place on a plate, and set aside.  

Lower heat to medium and add onions and mushrooms to the skillet.

Cook, frequently stirring, for 4 - 5 minutes until vegetables have softened.

Add gravy mix and water to the skillet and increase heat to high.  Bring gravy to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and return the pork chops to the skillet. Let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes.

Serve over rice, noodles, or mashed potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Dining Out Southeast: Classic on Noble, Anniston, AL

This morning we traveled to nearby Anniston, Alabama to enjoy brunch at one of our favorite restaurants:  Classic on Noble which is located in the beautiful 1894 Levy and Clark building in historic downtown Anniston.  Each time I walk through the front door of this establishment, the feeling is you're walking into a large familiar home with several hundred of your closest friends. The energy level is, without fail, happy, fun, and filled with families, couples, and groups of friends all ready to enjoy some of the most excellent Southern cuisine imaginable. Classic on Noble also serves a lunch and dinner menu, but today we'll focus on their famous Sunday Brunch.

There are a variety of different food "stations" located through the dining area. What appears to have the potential to be a chaotic situation is anything but. Like I said earlier, it's almost magical how everyone dining at the Classic is smiling and happy.  People are walking to and fro, planning how they're going to strategize their meal!  

We'll start with a few pictures of the interior, and then we'll get to the food! There are Christmas/holiday decorations in every spare inch which certainly adds to the festive spirit  I met up with this guy by the front door. Live piano music adds the perfect touch to the dining experience.

The winter wonderland window dressings are so lovely.

What's not to love (and envy!) with this silver collection?

If you have young guests dining with you, never fear.  One of the stations has a selection of childhood favorites including chicken fingers, mini-corn dogs, creamy mac and cheese, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, moon pies, and animal crackers!

I did not get a clear photo of the omelet and waffle station. I don't want to do a disservice to the Classic by posting a blurry picture.  But there is a talented woman who can whip up the lightest, fluffiest waffles you've ever eaten in just a few minutes. If you'd like an omelet, no problem! A WIDE variety of fillings are available including ham, bacon, cheese, mushrooms, jalapenos, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, etc. 

Another failing on my part was the omission of a photo of the taco bar including beef, chicken and all the yummy toppings!

Now, we'll go to the Salad Station.  This is not your run of the mill chain restaurant salad bar. This the Classic on Noble Salad Station!

This is a partial listing.  I say that because I know I have omitted some items! Fried green tomatoes, poached salmon with capers, assorted cheeses, sliders, fried dumplings with sesame seeds, fruit trays, chicken salad, dill potato salad, mixed green salad, hot wings, Waldorf salad, spinach salad, frog legs, calamari salad, boiled shrimp, spinach dip, corn salad, spinach, and strawberry salad.

And how about some delicious, rich red pepper and gouda soup?

If you're not already stuffed, there's also a vast selection of hot foods including steaks, baked ham, roasted turkey, dressing, green beans, collards, mashed potatoes with gravy, sweet potatoes, peas, chicken cordon bleu, sweet and sour chicken, crab cakes, etc.

And now, one of Classic's specialties which have the distinction of being listed as one of the "100 Dishes To Eat in Alabama Before You Die."

Finally, if you can manage to rise from your chair, the dessert station awaits. I can imagine this is what happens when you turn lose a number of Southern grandmamas in the kitchen.

As a final joy to the young diners.....a chocolate fountain with marshmallow, rice Krispy treats, fruit, and pretzel sticks!

The Classic on Noble is the perfect location to make memories with your family and friends while enjoying some of the most delicious food imaginable.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Wing Wednesday: Taco Seasoned Wings

This is a super easy baked chicken wing that you can prepare, place in a hot oven, and an hour later, dinner is on the table.  Use that hour to sit and relax.  Who am I kidding?  It's hard to have a spare minute to sit and relax, much less an hour.  But at least, there's no messy frying, no major clean up.  You'll have a large bowl and a baking sheet.  That's it!

You can make as many or few of the wings as you like.  I wanted leftovers so I cooked about 3 pounds of wings which were sold already separated and the tips removed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Spray a rimmed baking with nonstick spray.

Place wings in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle a liberal amount of taco seasoning onto wings and toss well to completely coat with the oil and seasoning.

Place wings in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 45- 60  minutes until wings are cooked through and crispy.

Serve with taco sauce and/or top with chopped cilantro, sour cream for dipping, etc. 

Taco Chicken Crescent Rollups with Habanero Jelly Glaze (with a second version, too!)

These are the perfect thing for after-school snacking, late night snacking, mid-afternoon snacking...you get the idea.  They would also make an easy appetizer or party food. If you've got a little bit of cooked chicken, and some shredded cheese, a tube of refrigerated crescent rolls in the fridge, you can be ready to enjoy in about 20 minutes.

1 tube refrigerated crescent rolls, separated into 8 sections
1 cup cooked shredded chicken
2/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
taco seasoning
Toppings:  minced cilantro, habanero jelly OR sour cream, taco sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

I used my pizza stone, but you can use a baking sheet.

Separate the crescent rolls into 8 pieces.  Divide cheddar cheese and chicken on top of the crescent rolls and sprinkle with taco seasoning.

Beginning at the widest end, roll the crescent rolls toward the narrow end and tuck in edges.  

Bake for 8 - 10 minutes until cheese has melted and the crescent rolls have browned. Brush with butter and sprinkle with minced cilantro.

Either top with hot pepper jelly or sour cream and taco sauce.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Thanksgiving Memories

What do you see when you look at the picture above? A very simple platter, right? A platter you could have purchased at a neighborhood store or received as a gift.

You may have walked right past it in a thrift store, a yard sale or a flea market. It's nothing special, just a simple Thanksgiving tray.

But for me, this platter is priceless.  It was my paternal grandmother's.  I have no idea where she purchased it, or if it was a gift, or how it came into her possession. After she passed, this was one of the things that belonged to her that I was fortunate enough to receive.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. A time to reflect on all that I have been given in this life, the family I've been blessed with, the talents I've been given.

Every year, I unwrap this simple platter with its "Made in Japan" stamp on the back and carefully wash and dry and place it on my table. It waits until I have the turkey roasted and sliced and I always think of the many times my grandmother surely did the exact same thing. 

Don't take any of your serving pieces for granted. Who knows? Someday one of your family members may cherish a platter or bowl that will be used on your Thanksgiving table tomorrow!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Kids' Thanksgiving 2018 Table

The little ones are not so little ones now. No sippy cups on the table this year. I still want the whimsy so they'll be dining on turkey plates!

A few little squirrels with their acorns.

I love these little people!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving 2018

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you'll definitely recognize the Thanksgiving tablecloth and napkins. They're a tradition for my table. Maybe one day I'll select another for my favorite holiday table, but I have my doubts.

Last year, I was sidelined with a broken foot and was unable to decorate a table for Thanksgiving. I had purchased these gorgeous plates a few weeks before my accident and they had to sit on the shelf and miss the fun.  I'm making up for that this year.

The plates (and bowls and salad plates and serving bowls!) were purchased from Tuesday Morning. Pheasants and ducks were also available!

These little turkey napkin rings have been on my table for decades. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Dining Out: Galveston Island, Texas - Benno's Cajun Seafood

When you're on vacation to a location you've never visited before and you eat lunch at a restaurant and enjoy it so much you go back for dinner a few nights later, you know you're on to something special.  Where is this magical place?  Benno's Cajun Seafood.

Benno's is located right on Seawall Boulevard on Galveston Island.  You can choose to dine either indoors or on their patio with an unobstructed view of the Gulf of Mexico.

Walk up to the counter, place your order, and take a seat. Every order is prepared fresh as you wait. No heat lamps here with sad fries waiting on you to order them.  

Sweet Harold ordered a Fried Oyster Po'Boy for his lunch selection. The bread was toasted, the po'boy piled high with delicious, well-seasoned oysters, and as he requested, was served dressed (with lettuce and tomatoes). Those fries were HOT, and the coleslaw was cold and crunchy.

The lady behind the counter suggested the Cajun Oyster lunch special. I was intrigued and expected fried oysters with Cajun seasoning on them.  But more on the oysters in a moment.  Boiled new potatoes on the menu???  My favorite way to eat potatoes.  Yes, please. 

Now more on those oysters.  Compare these oysters to the ones on the po'boy in the picture above. See how they appear to be flattened and have an excellent crust to them?  This is because they are cooked on the flattop. I had never had oysters prepared this way, but I do know these were the best-fried oysters I've ever had! The seasoning had just the right amount of heat and wasn't overly salty as some Cajun seasoned food tends to be.

As we left, our server mentioned we might want to come back for dinner and try the Cajun Seafood Platter and the bread pudding.  We followed her recommendation and were indeed glad we did!

The "platter" description is very accurate. The oysters prepared as they were for the lunch special (yay!!), large Gulf shrimp, and tilapia.  Coleslaw and roasted quartered potatoes completed the platter along with a toasted piece of French bread. All menu items were well seasoned. I was very impressed with the size of the fish, as well as the shrimp and oysters. $17.95

Isn't that a beautiful plate?

And then along comes the dessert:  Bread pudding with Bourbon sauce $3.95. This was a very large serving with a more than adequate amount of luxurious sauce. We shared and still couldn't finish the entire serving.

These lovely people were great!  Thanks for two great meals while we were visiting Galveston!

Chili Mac

Saturday we attended a great Fall cookout. I carried a crockpot full of chili sauce for the hot dogs.  The recipe is here.

With the leftovers tonight, I boiled an 8 oz. package of macaroni noodles, drained them, and put the noodles back into the hot pot. I then added the chili sauce and stirred over low heat until everything was hot and thoroughly combined.

Then we spooned this goodness up into big bowls, topped with finely shredded cheese, and minced cilantro.  What a great way to completely change the original dish into a wonderful comfort food meal.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hot Dog Sauce for Chili

I made the "mistake" of calling this hot dog chili when I brought it to a friend's cookout this afternoon.  Some of the attendees thought that the chili was made FROM hot dogs.  Hmmm.  I thought this sauce for topping grilled hot dogs was referred to as hot dog chili. Others told me that it should be more appropriately identified as Chili Sauce for Hotdogs.

Whatever you call it, it was delicious!

This amount makes a large amount for topping hot dogs, burgers, baked potatoes, or macaroni and cheese.  It freezes well, so it's good to make up a large batch and freeze in portion sizes for your family to have on hand for those very things.

2T. butter
1 large white onion, diced
1 heaping T. minced garlic
3 lb. ground chuck
7 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 - 12 oz. can tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
1 T. yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until translucent, not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add ground chuck and mash with a potato masher to break up the meat into tiny pieces.  You want a very fine consistency.  Continue cooking until beef is no longer pink. Drain fat.

Add next six ingredients and lower heat. Cover and simmer 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

You're ready to serve now, or swap over to a slow cooker and set to low.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Dining Out: Galveston Island, Texas - Gaido's

We dined at Gaido's on October 12, 2018, which was our 22nd wedding anniversary. Gaido's first opened in 1911, and their claim to having the freshest seafood in the area is legendary. The restaurant is located in a large, sprawling building filled with family mementos and display cases holding gorgeous pieces of cut glassware collected through the years.

We were warmly greeted, our reservation was confirmed, and we were immediately seated.  The staff knew it was our anniversary and assured us there would be no rush and urged us to take our time and enjoy our meal. We were checked on by no less than three people during our meal. But it wasn't intrusive, just enough to let us know if there were ANY problems, they would be taken care of immediately.

White cloth tablecloths with cloth napkins, candlelight, NO TELEVISIONS, and low music so you could actually have a conversation without having to speak loudly to be heard, set the tone for a lovely evening.  Did I mention that you also have a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy while you dine?

Our server was Vadim who was attentive, wished us a Happy Anniversary and gave us a brief history of the restaurant and told us of their dedication to high quality. Kudos to Gaido's for thoroughly training their staff.

We placed our drink orders which arrived promptly.  I chose a Stoli cucumber martini and Harold had their top shelf Long Island Iced Tea. These were the best cocktails of the trip.  

We sipped while we considered the extensive menu and discussed the night's specials all the while enjoying the warm bread and rich herbed olive oil.

I never turn down an opportunity to enjoy fried crab claws. I was excited to see them on the menu! These were lightly battered, just enough so that the fresh taste of the crab wasn't overwhelmed. 

To continue with our love for crab, Sweet Harold chose the crab cake appetizer with beurre blanc sauce. The crab cake was much crab than filler which is always a sign of a restaurant that doesn't skimp or cut corners. The beurre blanc sauce was expertly made as were all the sauces which accompanied our dishes.

I couldn't pass on the shrimp bisque.  I have distinct memories of excellent soups/bisques I've enjoyed through the years:  The She Crab Soup at Firefly in Panama City Beach, Florida and the Lobster Bisque served at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I can now happily add the Shrimp Bisque from Gaido's in Galveston. Rich, flavorful with a significant proportion of shrimp to bisque with that distinctive sherry flavor.

Sweet Harold selected the Red Snapper Michael for his entree'.  The dish is named for a server named Michael who actually designed the restaurant building. The snapper is coated in a light parmesan flour and sauteed. He elected to add lump crab meat and beurre blanc sauce.  The side dish was roasted potato wedges. He was well pleased with his selection.

If you scroll up to the very first picture, you'll notice that night's special grilled swordfish with buttered crab. I had never tried swordfish, but after Vadim's detailed description, I couldn't resist. The texture of the grilled swordfish was indeed different than your typically pan sauteed or grilled fish. Different, but delicious. See that lump crabmeat Castilla topping? If you are ever offered that as an option, please accept!  I had the asparagus as my side dish, and it was perfectly cooked.

As I mentioned, we were celebrating our anniversary. We were treated to a Key Lime Cheesecake for dessert. Oh my. The crust was lightly browned, the filling was tart, and the glaze wasn't overly sweet. A perfect ending to our wonderful meal.

Thank you Gaido's for a memorable and delicious Anniversary Celebration!