Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Cheese Night!

Oh, my, y'all know my love of cheese! I'll try any and all. Here's a true international variety. BTW, the Belgian Fontina was most definitely my favorite. Fontina is an Italian's cow's milk cheese. Mild and creamy, this was SO good with these crunchy whole-grain crackers.   

Some nights, especially after you've had a large lunch, a light supper is perfect.  A choice of different flavors and textures of crackers is a nice touch. Add a few varieties of olives and your light meal is elevated to another level.  

Instead of my usual prosciutto and/or salami selection, this time I chose a Bresaola. Bresaola is air-dried salted beef that has been aged two or three months until it becomes hard and turns a dark red, almost purple color. It is made from top inside round beef and is lean and tender.  It originated in Northern Italy's Lombardy region.  Try it drizzled with a little olive oil and topped with freshly cracked black pepper or shaved Parmesan.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sheet Pan Supper: Chicken Parmesan with Broccoli

If you're looking for a recipe that helps to cut fat and calories from your Chicken Parmesan, give this one a try. The chicken is lightly coated with crunchy Panko breadcrumbs then baked. You won't miss the heavy breading or the time spent pan frying at all with this version. A nice side dish of roasted broccoli cooks right on the same pan.  A few minutes prep time, 20 minutes or so to bake, and dinner is ready!

1 large egg
1/2 cup panko (Japanese) breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 t. salt
1 t. pepper
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. dried Italian Seasoning
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 6 oz. each)
Olive oil flavored non-stick spray
4 cups fresh or frozen broccoli florets
1 cup marinara sauce
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
Chopped parsley and a little more Parmesan cheese for topping

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Lightly coat a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil flavored non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg. In a separate shallow bowl, stir together the next six ingredients. Dip chicken breast in egg; allow excess mixture to drip off.

Then dip chicken into breadcrumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere to the chicken. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Place chicken on the baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray.

Bake 10 minutes.

While chicken bakes, toss broccoli with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Remove chicken from oven.

Spread broccoli in a single layer along both sides of sheet pain. If using frozen broccoli, break pieces apart. Return to oven; bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven.

Preheat broiler. Spread marinara sauce over the chicken; top with mozzarella cheese. Broil 3 - 4 inches from the heating element until cheese is golden brown and vegetables are tender, 3 - 5 minutes.

If desired, sprinkle with the parsley and extra Parmesan.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Sheet Pan Supper: Italian Sausage with Onions and Peppers

Time for another easy and convenient Sheet Pan Supper. The potential here for a variety of meals is wonderful! You can make sandwiches (which is what I did), toss with buttered noodles, or even enjoy it as is right off the sheet pan.

You can use your choice of sweet, mild, or hot Italian Sausage. I chose the mild version and served the filling on a toasted hoagie roll with melted Provolone Cheese.  Simply delicious.

1 lb. uncooked Italian Sausage links, roughly chopped
3 medium bell peppers, seeded and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 - 2 T. olive oil
Hoagie Rolls
Provolone Cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place sausage pieces on a rimmed baking sheet. Arrange onions and peppers around the sausage. Drizzle olive oil over sausage and vegetables and place in oven. Let bake 15 minutes and stir.

Return to oven for another 15 minutes until sausage is cooked through and the vegetables are tender, 20 minutes or so longer.

During the last five minutes of baking, arrange rolls on a baking sheet and lightly brush with olive oil. Top one (or both) sides of the roll with sliced Provolone cheese. Bake until rolls are browned and cheese is melted.

Spoon sausage and vegetable mixture onto bottom of roll and top with the melty cheese top portion.

Doesn't that look delicious!?!

Serve immediately.

Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sheet Pan Supper: Limonato Broiled Catfish with Roasted Vegetable Medley

This recipe is healthy from start to finish! There are many flavors and textures with the variety of vegetables. Roasting the vegetables brings out their sweetness. If you've never tried a roasted radish, you're in for a treat!

Instead of using butter to flavor the vegetables and fish, I chose Limonato Olive Oil. Tunisian green lemon (Eureka Green Limonato™) is made by crushing very green olives with young green Eureka Lemons in November. The result is an incredibly complex, pungent fusion. By picking certain Eureka lemons at the precise moment for maximum lemon aroma and flavor, this powerfully fragrant oil is the result.  It's absolutely delicious!

3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into wedges
1 (12 oz.) bag shredded Brussels Sprouts
3 - 4 large radishes, thinly sliced
1 cup fresh sugar snap peas, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 small carrot, thinly sliced
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 - 1 1/2 lb. catfish fillets
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  Sprayed a rimmed sheet pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, combine first five ingredients. Add olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper; toss to coat. Place vegetables in a single layer on prepared sheet pan.

Bake until vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and preheat broiler. Arrange vegetables on one side of the sheet pan. Add catfish to the other side. Sprinkle fillets with salt and pepper; drizzle with olive oil.  

Broil 4 - 5 inches from heat until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 5-6 minutes.  

Serve with lemon or lime wedges. A little lemon or lime zest on the fish is a great finishing touch.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Overstuffed Vegetarian Poblanos

I loved stuffed peppers in all forms. I have used orzo, shrimp, chorizo, Italian sausage, etc. for the base of the stuffing. But how about a Meatless Monday Vegetarian version? These are loaded with veggies and can be made ahead to help with those busy weeknight meals.

If you don't have a grill, or if the weather prevents you from going outdoors to prep the poblanos, never fear! For the first time, I experimented with using the oven to do the work. Super easy! No grill to light, no flames to worry with, just about 15 minutes in the oven and the peppers have blistered perfectly.

6 - 8 large poblano peppers
1 T. olive oil
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed, drained, and coarsely mashed
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 t. minced garlic
1 can (15 oz.) Mexi-corn
1 can (14 1/2 oz.) fire-roasted diced tomatoes, undrained
1 small can diced green chilies, undrained
1 cup cooked brown rice
1 T. ground cumin
1 1/2 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. ground cayenne
1/4 t. each salt and black pepper
1 cup shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided
3 green onions, thinly sliced

Suggested toppings:  sour cream, salsa, chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse off peppers and pat dry. Lightly coat each pepper with vegetable oil. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and place in oven for 15 - 20 minutes or until skins have blistered. Use tongs to turn peppers over about halfway through the time. Remove from oven, place peppers in a large bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let peppers rest for 20 minutes or so while you prepare the filling.

Add olive oil to a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions and cook, stirring frequently, until both have softened, about 3 - 4 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, rice, and seasonings. Stir to combine and then remove from heat. Stir in 1/2 cup of the shredded cheese. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Carefully peel charred skins from peppers and discard skins. Cut a slit lengthwise in each pepper. Leave the stem intact. Discard membranes and seeds.

Carefully spoon filling evenly into each pepper. 

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with non-stick spray. Place peppers into prepared baking dish and back until heated through about 20 minutes. Sprinkle with green onions and remaining cheese during the last few minutes of cooking.

Top with sour cream, chopped cilantro, and/or salsa if desired.

After filling peppers and placing in the baking dish, you can cover with foil and refrigerate overnight. When ready to bake the next day, add 5 - 10 minutes to cooking time.

From Taste of Home magazine

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Sheet Pan Supper: Hoisin Sriracha Chicken with Vegetables

This is a great dish that you can adapt to use the vegetables you like best. You could easily use broccoli instead of cauliflower, carrots instead of red bell peppers, you get the idea. Brown rice is a great base to plate the chicken and vegetables.

Don't skimp on the sauce ingredients. You're going to wish you had even more!

1/3 cup hoisin sauce
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 T. Sriracha Asian hot chili sauce
2 t. Sesame Oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 t. grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 lbs. chicken thighs
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 medium sweet potato, peel, and cut into small cubes
4 cups fresh cauliflower
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
Sesame seeds and/or thinly sliced green onions (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Whisk together the first 7 ingredients and set aside.

Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper. Place chicken and sweet potato cubes in a large bowl.  Drizzle with 1 T. of garlic olive oil and a third of the hoisin mixture and toss to coat. Place chicken and sweet potatoes in a single layer on a rimmed sheet pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray. 

Bake 15 minutes; turn chicken and potatoes. Add cauliflower and red pepper; drizzle with another third of hoisin mixture and 1 T. garlic olive oil.

Bake until a thermometer inserted in chicken read 170 - 175 degrees F., about 20-25 minutes longer.

Drizzle with remaining sauce and, if using, sprinkle with sesame seeds or green onions.

Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict

Another version of my favorite brunch item:  Eggs Benedict. Plan ahead a little for this recipe. You'll need to mix up the ingredients for the crab cakes, form the cakes, and let them spend a little time in the refrigerator before pan frying them. The time in the fridge will help hold the crab cakes together. There is very little bread filling in this recipe. You'll enjoy the flavor and texture of the crab meat instead of breadcrumbs.

This recipe will make four servings.

For the crab cakes:
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. mayonnaise
1 - 1/1/2 t. Old Bay seasoning
1/2 t. Worcestershire Sauce
Few grinds of black pepper
1 T. fresh chopped parsley
3 T. panko breadcrumbs
8 oz. lump crab claw meat

In a small bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. Gently fold in crab meat. Divide mixture into four parts and shape into crab cakes. Place on a plate and refrigerate for 45 minutes or so.

To make the Hollandaise Sauce, I use Ina Garten's foolproof method:

2 egg yolks
1 T. lemon juice
dash of salt
dash of cayenne
1 stick butter, melted

Place egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a blender. Cover. Pulse 5 or 6 times to blend. Remove the top portion of the blender (you know, the plastic or glass part that's removable, not the entire lid). With the blender set to the low setting, SLOWLY pour in melted butter. The sauce will begin to thicken. Stop blender, scrape down sides and pulse a few more times to blend.

Place sauce into a glass or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water while you cook the eggs. If sauce thickens too much, whisk in a teaspoon or so of water.

To poach the eggs:

Bring a small saucepan 2/3 filled with water to a gentle simmer.  

Add 1 T. white vinegar. Break 1 egg into a small ramekin or bowl. With a spoon, gently stir the water and when you have it swirling, very carefully let the egg slip into the "whirlpool."  

The white of the egg will form around the yolk. Let the egg poach for 3 minutes and remove from its water bath and let it drain on a paper towel. Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Remove the crab cakes from the refrigerator and melt 2 T. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When butter bubbles, carefully place crab cakes into the melted butter using a metal spatula. Let crab cakes cook 3 - 5 minutes on each side. Remove from skillet and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

Toast the English Muffins in a toaster until golden brown. Add a crab cake on top of the muffin half, carefully place a poached egg on top of each crab cake and drizzle with a generous portion of the Hollandaise Sauce.

Garnish with paprika and serve immediately.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Sheet Pan Supper: Pork, Asparagus, and Potatoes

This recipe wins for so many reasons. First, the prep time is about 10 minutes. Secondly, the cook time is about 25 minutes. Which means, start to finish you can have supper on the table ready to eat within 40 minutes. On busy weeknights, you can prep for 10, pop in the oven for 25 minutes while you do other things, and then supper is on the table!

6 T. olive oil, divided
3 cups diced new potatoes
1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
4 boneless pork chops
1/4 ground cumin
1/2 t. chili powder

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, toss potatoes with a few shakes of salt and a few grinds of black pepper with 2 T. of the olive oil. Place on one section of the prepared sheet pan. 

In the same bowl, repeat with the asparagus with salt, pepper, and 2 T. of olive oil. Place asparagus on another section of the prepared sheet pan.

Brush pork chops with remaining 2 T. of olive oil, salt, pepper, and sprinkle with the ground cumin and chili powder. Place chops in the remaining section of the pan.  

Bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until a thermometer insert in pork reads 145 degrees F. and the potatoes are tender.

Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Wing Wednesday: Crispy Oven Baked Buffalo Ranch Chicken Wings

These are double dipped wings, or maybe triple dipped, or hmm. I'm not really sure how to describe them other than packed with flavor AND heat.

You'll need three shallow plates or bowls for the breading/dipping station. The wings are coated with a mixture of flour and dry ranch dressing, then dipped in hot sauce, THEN coated in panko breadcrumbs. Whether you want to double dip them before the panko crumbs is up to you. I did some of each and we really enjoyed the double dipped!

1 stick butter
1 1/2 - 2 lbs. chicken wings
1 1/2 cups flour
2 packages Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing Mix
1 cup Franks Redhot Buffalo Wing Sauce (or your favorite wing sauce)
1 1/2 - 2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Extras:  Ranch dressing, celery sticks

Place stick of butter on a large rimmed baking sheet. Place baking sheet in the oven and preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Remove pan from oven and set aside.

Arrange the three shallow plates side by side. Add flour and dressing mix to one and stir to combine.

Add hot wing sauce to the second one and Panko breadcrumbs to the third.

Roll chicken wings in the flour/ranch mixture, then buffalo sauce, then panko.  Place on baking sheet.

OR, you can:

Roll chicken wings in the flour/ranch mixture, then buffalo sauce, back to the flour/ranch, another dip in the hot wing sauce, THEN in the panko breadcrumbs.

Bake for 15-18 minutes, then carefully turn each wing over and cook an additional 15- 18 minutes.

Serve immediately with Ranch dressing and celery sticks on the side.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Food Memories, Part I

Instead of a recipe this morning, I'm remembering some of the adventures Sweet Harold and I have shared over the years. I hope you enjoy my mental meanderings.

What's the best food memory you have from your travels? For me, I have two. In 2004, Sweet Harold and I ran away from home for 24 days. We drove to California. We drove until we were tired, ate when we were hungry, stopped at any roadside attraction that caught our fancy. It was an awesome trip. I kept a journal and reading back through my entries is always a treat. Of course, I kept detailed notes on the food we enjoyed on the way.

Anyway, my two favorite food memories from that trip are:

9/20/04 The Beach House Restaurant in Laguna Beach, CA. We shared bruschetta and lobster bisque. Harold had a mixed seafood dish which included halibut, shrimp, clams, mussels, and crab legs. I had Pacific prawns stuffed with crab and lobster with Au gratin potatoes. We sat on an outdoor deck at sunset and watched the surfers down below catching the last waves of the day. My plate had a beautiful orchid resting on the edge. I dried the flower on the dashboard of the car as we drove the Nevada desert. It rests in my curio cabinet in the living room.

9/17/04 The Turquoise Room at La Posada. This hotel was built in 1929 as a stop on the Santa Fe Railroad. Many Hollywood stars stayed there in the '40's and '50's while they were touring. We stayed in the Frank Sinatra room. Our dinner was the following:

We shared a Squash Blossom Quesadilla: whole wheat tortilla filled with squash blossoms, grilled squash, roasted corn, locally made jalapeno jack and cheddar Colby goat cheeses served with fresh tomato salsa. We also had their signature soup which is cream of corn and smooth black beans served side by side in the bowl and topped with a signature red chili sauce.

Harold had elk medallions w/a blackcurrant Cassis sauce along with a wild mushroom and corn flan with fresh vegetables. I had a premium Angus Prime Rib served with horseradish cream, fresh vegetables, and baked potato.

We shared a bread pudding with raspberries and a prickly pear sauce.

Thanks for humoring me as I reminisced.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Taco Tuesday: Flank Steak Street Tacos with Baklouti Green Chili & Serrano Honey

Are you looking for a marinade that will wake up those taste buds, but have wonderful healthy properties as well? The marinade for this spicy taco dish includes heart healthy olive oil as well as balsamic vinegar which is loaded with antioxidants!  Win/Win!

If the HOT Baklouti Green Chili Olive Oil isn't enough for you, I also added Serrano Honey Balsamic Vinegar as the base for the marinade. No worries, the tacos won't burn your taste buds.  However, the flavor that the marinade imparts such flavor to the steak.

I used 2 lbs. of thinly sliced flank steak. Cut into bite sized pieces.

Here's the marinade:

4 T. Serrano Honey Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. Baklouti Green Chili Olive oil
1 t. salt
1 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. ground cumin

In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients until completely blended. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl. Add the steak and stir until steak is well coated. Let marinate 2 - 3 hours in refrigerator if possible.

Remove steak from refrigerator. 

Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat until a drop of the marinade sizzles when added to the skillet.

Using tongs, add about half the steak to the skillet in a single layer and reduce heat slightly.  Quickly cook the steak (it's so thinly sliced it won't take but a minute!) and remove from skillet onto a platter or bowl. Continue browning the steak in batches until finished.

For street tacos, you definitely need the smaller sized corn tortillas. Prepare and heat according to package directions. For this amount of steak, we had 8 tacos.

Divide steak evenly into prepared tortillas. Garnish with chopped cilantro, thinly sliced radishes, and taco sauce. Serve with lime wedges.

Serve immediately.

Southern Cornmeal Crusted Fried Catfish with Hushpuppies

I love catfish. Especially Mississippi farm raised catfish. When you shop for fish, please try to steer clear of foreign farm raised and stick with farmed or harvested in the USA.

2 lbs. farm raised catfish fillets, rinsed and patted dry
few grinds of black pepper

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper over catfish and set aside.

In a shallow dish or baking pan, combine the following:

2 cups white, self-rising cornmeal
few grinds of black pepper
1/2 t. seasoned salt
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. onion powder

Pre-heat oil to 375 degrees F. either in a deep cast iron skillet.  You will need enough oil to allow the fish to float to the surface.  

Coat one piece of catfish at a time with the cornmeal mixture and turn to coat both sides completely.

SLOWLY add the fish into the oil a few pieces at a time.  Don't crowd the skillet.  Let fish cook 5 - 6 minutes or until golden brown and cooked through.  

Remove cooked fish from oil using tongs and place on paper towel lined plate to drain.  Place plate  in a warm oven to keep warm while you fry remaining fish.  Taste and sprinkle with a little salt if needed.

Serve with lemon wedges.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Fuji Apple Coleslaw with Creamy Red Apple Balsamic Dressing

When I fry catfish, coleslaw is a MUST to serve as a side dish. I love experimenting with different versions and dressings. I spied a few Fuji apples in the fruit bowl. I knew that would add a great crunch. Now, for the dressing. What better to pair with Fuji apples than Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar? I served the slaw in a smaller version of the main dish glass "fish" plate.  I love how it looked paired with the larger plate.

You can either use prepackaged slaw mix or shred your own cabbage. You'll need about 4 cups.

4 cups raw cabbage (shredded or diced)
1/2 cup carrots (shredded or diced)
2 Fuji apples, cored and diced

Toss these ingredients together in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the following:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
2 T. Red Apple Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 t. salt (more or less)
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Pour dressing over the slaw mixture and stir to thoroughly combine.

Refrigerate until time to serve.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Italian Sausage Soup with White Beans and Kale

I left work early today due to the expected winter weather event we were told would arrive mid-afternoon. The snow didn't begin until early evening so I was home in plenty of time. But the extra hours allowed me to experiment with ingredients on hand. You can use either dried beans or canned beans. Omit the sausage and substitute vegetable stock and you'll have a great vegetarian meal.

Garlic and kale are two superfoods! Your body will thank you for your intake! We also know that balsamic vinegar has important health benefits as well. Just before serving, I added approximately 1 T. of Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar. It adds a bright note of freshness to the soup.

If you're using dried beans, you'll need to presoak for a few hours or overnight. Sort through the beans and discard any which are bad. Put the beans in a glass bowl and cover with cool water. Cover. After soaking, drain, rinse the beans and set aside while you prepare the soup.

If you are pressed for time, you can do a quick soak. Sort through the beans, place in a saucepan, cover with water and bring to a rapid boil. Let boil for two minutes, cover and remove from heat. Let beans soak an hour, drain, rinse and set aside while you prepare the soup.

1 lb. navy beans (prepared as described above)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1 lb. Italian sausage
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 - 14.5 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
2 t. dried Italian seasoning
1/2 t. crushed fennel seeds
3 cups kale, trimmed and cut into bite-sized pieces
salt to taste
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a medium Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, add garlic infused olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Lightly salt the vegetables. Add garlic and cook for another minute or so.

While the vegetables are softening, in a separate skillet, brown the Italian sausage over medium-high heat.

When browned, add the sausage to the vegetables along with the beans, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and fennel seeds.

Reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let soup cook for 2 - 2 1/2 hours or until beans are soft and cooked through. 

Add kale, salt, and pepper. Cover and let the soup cook for another 15 - 20 minutes.

Just before serving, stir in the Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar.

Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Creamy Tuscan Ham and Vegetable Soup

And here is the last of the leftover ham recipes. If you are cooking for a single or double family, this is the perfect pot of soup for you. This makes about a quart and a half of soup. You won't be left for a huge pot of leftovers.

We've talked about the term "layers of flavor" before. For this delicious pot of soup, I started my layering of flavors with Tuscan Herb Olive Oil.  This particular olive oil has an amazing blend of thyme, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic. You can see how this will flavor the soup!

2 T. Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 rib celery chopped
2 t. minced garlic
2 - 2 1/2 cups chopped ham
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
a few grinds of black pepper
1 - 2 t. Tuscan Herb seasoning 
2 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a 3 quart Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. 

Add onion, carrot, and celery and saute' until vegetables begin to soften, 3 - 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add in garlic and let cook for a minute or so. Now add the ham, continue stirring occasionally, until ham begins to brown.

Pour in broth and add the black pepper and Tuscan Herb seasoning. Increase heat and allow soup to come to a boil. Add in potatoes, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook until vegetables are soft, 20 - 30 minutes.

Add cream to soup, stir, and let soup rewarm after the addition of the cream. Serve immediately.

Chef Salad Pasta Salad

Here's another way to use up that leftover ham. I started with a boxed pasta salad mix and added some of my favorite Chef's Salad ingredients to elevate a simple side dish to a main course meal.

Here's the type I used:

1 box Betty Crocker Suddenly Pasta Salad (Creamy Parmesan) 
1/2 seedless cucumbers, quartered and then sliced
1/2 cup halved, grape tomatoes
1 cup cubed cooked ham
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
1 boiled egg, chopped

Prepare the pasta salad according to package directions. 

Add cucumbers, grape tomatoes, ham, cheddar cheese, and boiled egg. Mix well to combine all ingredients.

Top with additional finely shredded cheddar cheese.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Marinated Shrimp with Champagne Beurre Blanc

Special occasions call for special presentations and attention to detail. Sometimes these special occasions are Saturday night dinners at home! 

Don't be intimated by the French sauce.Beurre Blanc is simply a butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar, wine, and shallots to which cold pieces of butter are added one at a time and whisked in completely before the next piece is added. The butter needs to be added over very low heat or even off the heat source so the sauce doesn't separate. 

I used this type of Champagne Balsamic Vinegar which was made with dark balsamic. Therefore, my sauce was darker than one which is made with a white balsamic, but the taste! Velvety smooth and so flavorful. This dish is not a recipe you can whip up at the spur of the moment. You'll need to plan a little time to marinate the shrimp, prepared the reduction as the base of the sauce, and then slowly whisk in the butter. But, rest assured, your diners will be WOWED! 

You can either serve medium-sized shrimp as an elegant seafood appetizer or use the largest shrimp you can find (and afford!) and serve as a main course dish. 

For the Sauce Base:
2 cups Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
1/3 cup finely chopped shallots
1/4 t. whole black peppercorns

Combine Champagne, shallots, vinegar, and peppercorns in a heavy medium saucepan. Boil until reduced to 1/4 cup liquid, about 20 minutes. You can make this up to 4 hours ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.

For the Shrimp:
1 cup Champagne or other dry sparkling wine
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 T. minced shallots
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
24 extra large uncooked shrimp (about two pounds), peeled, deveined, with tail left intact
1 T. minced fresh chives
1 T. minced fresh tarragon
1T. minced fresh parsley
nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 16 pieces

Combine Champagne, olive oil, and ground pepper in a resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp to bag and seal; shake bag to co shrimp evenly. Marinate shrimp at room temperature at least 30 minutes and u tp 1 hour, turning bag occasionally. Mix chives, tarragon, and parsley in small bowl.

Preheat broiler. Spray broiler pan with nonstick vegetable oil spray. drain shrimp; discard plastic bag with marinade. Arrange shrimp on prepared pain single layer. Broil shrimp until just opaque in center, about two minutes per side. Stand 3 or 4 shrimp tails upright, in center of each plate.

Rewarm sauce based over medium-low heat. Whisk in butter, one piece at a time, just allowing each to melt before adding next (do not boil or sauce WILL separate).  

Season Beurre Blanc to taste with salt and pepper.

Spoon warms sauce around shrimp. Sprinkle with fresh herbs and serve.

Adapted from Epicurous.com

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Poached Egg with Hollandaise Sauce over Hash Browns

This recipe has so many shortcuts that there is absolutely no reason or excuse not to make this one because you're intimidated of 1) poaching eggs, 2) making hollandaise, or 3) preparing crunchy hash browns.

My wonderful friend, Marian, gave me the new easy way to prepare poached eggs.  In a mug.  In the microwave! If you have a mug, saucer, water, an egg, and microwave, in one minute you can have a poached egg.

Ina Garten provides the simple blender method for preparing hollandaise which can be made ahead, put in a small bowl over simmering water and when the eggs are ready, the sauce is ready to be spooned over the eggs.

The hashbrowns are frozen and ready to go in a hot cast iron skillet. Don't worry about trying to keep them in square or circles. Go the Waffle House route and scatter them while they're cooking. You'll have a great crunchy texture on more of the potato pieces instead of the square of hashbrowns being crunchy on the outside and pale and blah on the inside.

Ready?  Let's make breakfast.

I always start with the potatoes, because as they cook, I can make the hollandaise and eggs. This is when your multi-tasking skills will come in to play. If you're not good at multi-tasking, recruit someone to keep an eye on the hashbrowns while you make the sauce and eggs.

In a large, cast iron skillet, over medium-high heat, add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. When the oil shimmers, add enough of the frozen hashbrowns to cover the bottom of the skillet in about 1/2 inch layer. Let potatoes begin to brown and then start flipping them with a spatula to allow them to continue to brown. Lower the heat to medium and continue cooking until the hashbrowns are browned throughout and are nice and crunchy! Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Now for the hollandaise:
2 egg yolks
1 T. lemon juice
dash of salt
dash of cayenne
1 stick butter, melted

Place egg yolks, lemon juice, salt, and cayenne in a blender. Cover. Pulse 5 or 6 times to blend. Remove the top portion of the blender (you know, the plastic or glass part that's removable, not the entire lid). With the blender set to the low setting, SLOWLY pour in melted butter. The sauce will begin to thicken. Stop blender, scrape down sides and pulse a few more times to blend.

Place sauce into a glass or metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water while you cook the eggs. If sauce thickens too much, whisk in a teaspoon or so of water.

Let's poach the eggs!

You'll need a bowl or mug that has a capacity to hold at least 1 cup water.

Add 1/2 cup water to bowl or mug, and carefully crack the egg into the water. Cover the bowl or mug with a saucer. Place into the microwave and cook for 1 minute. You may need to carefully turn the egg over with a spoon and cook for another 15 seconds or so if the white is not quite set. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on top of a serving of the hashbrowns. Sprinkle with a little sea salt and black pepper and top with a serving of the Hollandaise sauce. Top with chopped parsley.

Repeat with fresh water in the bowl or mug with remaining eggs. 

For this recipe, you'll have enough hashbrowns and sauce for three or four eggs.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Ham and Mushroom Pot Pie

I had some of the leftover New Year's ham in the fridge that I certainly did not want to go to waste! We've had breakfast biscuits with ham, and all sorts of sandwiches already. So I decided I would try a pot pie with ham instead of chicken. I didn't want to the usual vegetables like peas and carrots that you'd normally associate with a chicken pot pie. 

This version has fresh mushrooms, onions, along with spinach and Gruyere cheese. It was absolutely delicious and I will always remember to make another one of these delicious savory pies the next time I have leftover ham.

You can certainly lighten up the recipe by using a "healthy request" type soup and low fat sour cream.

2 T. butter or olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped (your choice on which type mushroom you prefer)
2 cups diced ham
8 oz. fresh spinach 
1 can cream of mushroom soup
8 oz. sour cream
1 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese (or Swiss)
Pie crust for top and bottom (packaged or homemade)
1 egg beaten with 1 t. water

In a large skillet heat butter or olive oil over medium high heat. Add onions and mushrooms. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions become clear and mushrooms soften.

Next, add in the cubed ham and let mixture cook until ham begins to brown, another 5 minutes or so.

Now it's time for the spinach. Add a few handfuls at a time, allowing to wilt before adding a little more. 

When all the spinach has wilted and cooked down, your mixture should look like this. Turn off heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk together soup, sour cream, thyme, nutmeg, and pepper. Add to the ham and vegetable mixture and stir to combine.

My favorite part! The cheese is added next and stirred into the hot mixture and allowed to melt.

Taste your filling at this point. The ham and cheese (along with the soup) will have salt. You probably won't need to add any additional salt to the filling. That's your call!

Preheat oven at this point to 375 degrees F.

Place one of the pie crusts into a pie plate. Press crust down into the plate and add filling.

Now add your top crust and either make a gorgeous decorative border for the edges, or do like I did and press the edges together with a fork to seal. I call this version "RUSTIC" which sounds better than "I can't make a gorgeous decorative border."

Using a pastry brush, coat the entire top of pie crust with the egg wash you mixed up earlier. Cut a few slits in the top crust with a knife.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until golden brown. If crust begins to brown too much cover the edges with foil. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. Isn't that pretty?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2018 Table

It's January so that means the Snow Men and Snow Women are making their annual appearance on the table! I love to mix and match different blues and whites with a few red accents to enjoy during the cold month of January. 

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo

Along with the majority of the country, we've been in the deep freeze this week. It's always time for gumbo at Chez Lolly. I debated briefly on what type to make, but chicken and smoked sausage won this time!

And remember.......first you make a roux.

And also remember, once you begin the roux, you don't leave the stove. You don't go answer the phone, you don't check emails or texts, you don't do anything but stir that roux!

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped (include some leaves if possible!)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup flour
8 cups chicken stock
3 chicken breasts, cooked, chopped
1 - 1 1/2 lbs. smoked sausage, sliced and browned (I use Conecuh brand)
2 bay leaves
2 t. chopped garlic
1 T. chopped parsley
1 T. Cajun or Creole seasoning
a few shakes of your favorite hot sauce
additional salt if needed****

Prepare vegetables and set aside. Add chicken stock to a large Dutch oven and set heat to medium. You just want it to begin to get hot.

In a cast iron skillet, melt butter and add flour over medium-high heat. Lower heat when butter has melted, and begin to stir. You need to continuously stir the roux until it reaches a milk chocolate color. This can take as long as 30 - 35 minutes. 

Add the vegetables all at once and stir to stop the roux from cooking and to allow the vegetables to begin to soften. Continue stirring for a few minutes. Add vegetables to the chicken stock.

Add chicken and browned sausage to the chicken stock and vegetables. Increase heat to bring mixture to a boil.

Add seasonings and lower heat to a simmer. 

Let gumbo cook for several hours, stirring occasionally. Remove bay leaves before serving.

**** with the seasoning and the smoked sausage, you may not need additional salt

Serve over cooked white rice with French bread on the side. Top with thinly sliced green onions if desired.