Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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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.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Tuscan Herb Baked Pork Chops

It's a longstanding tradition to have pork on New Year's Day. Some years we have ham, occasionally I'll cook a pork tenderloin, but for this year, I decided baked pork chops would be the star of the show. 

Thirty minutes in the marinade and an hour baking time and we were ready to eat. I always keep a variety of olive oils and different kinds of vinegar to experiment with when it's time to mix up a marinade. I love the blending of flavors of Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar. These pork chops were fork tender and so moist! If you're looking for a new way to wow the family with familiar pork chops, give this recipe a try.

1/4 cup Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar
a few grinds of black pepper
1/2 t. salt
1 T. Tone's Tuscan Garlic Seasoning Blend
1/3 cup Tuscan Herb Olive Oil
6 bone-in pork chops (about 1 1/2 - 2 lbs.)

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, black pepper, salt, and seasoning blend. While whisking, slowly pour in olive oil to completely blend together. Add pork chops to a large Ziplog bag. Pour in marinade, carefully close bag, and turn bag over a few times to completely coat pork chops.

Let pork chops marinate for 30 minutes or so.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a large baking dish with non-stick spray. Carefully place pork chops into baking dish and pour marinade over chops.

Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or so. Remove foil and return to oven for another 15 minutes or until internal temperature of pork chops reach 160 degrees F.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Milanese Gremolata Baked Potato Wedges

Baked potatoes don't have to be loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese, and/or bacon to be delicious. Milanese Gremolata is a traditional Italian herb condiment consisting of fresh lemon zest, minced garlic, Italian flat leaf parsley and a hint of mint. By using an olive oil which has been infused with these flavors, you have a healthy alternative for a delicious side dish.

3 - 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
2 - 3 T. Milanese Gremolata olive oil

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Toss potato wedges with olive oil and seasoning blend. 

Place on a rimmed baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until cooked through and potatoes have browned.

Serve immediately.

Happy New Year 2018 !

I hope you have a wonderful 2018!  Here's a picture of our New Year's Day meal:

Tuscan Herb baked pork chop
Milanese Gremolata Potatoes
Pinto Beans cooked with ham with pickled zucchiniCooked cabbage with chow chowButtermilk cornbread

I'll be posting recipes for some of the goodies pictured above!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Christmas Dinner: Cornish Game Hen and Vegetables

While the foot is still healing, I knew the long-standing tradition of a big Christmas night meal would be impossible. So, I incorporated the helpfulness of the slow cooker! With about 15 minutes of prep time and four hours on the high setting, this lovely meal was ready to devour.

You can use whichever root vegetables you'd like. I chose fennel, onions, garlic, multi-colored potatoes, and baby carrots.

2 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter
2 (20 oz.) Cornish game hens, thawed, rinsed and patted dry
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Herbes de Provence
1 cup dry white wine
2 T. lemon juice
1 cup thinly sliced fennel bulb, reserve some fronds for garnish
1 cup thinly sliced yellow onions
8 cloves garlic, peeled
8 - 10 small multi-colored potatoes
2 cups baby carrots
2 T. butter

Heat olive oil and butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. When butter bubbles, add hens on at a time and brown until both sides are golden. Repeat with the other hen. Set aside when both are browned.

Add white wine to the skillet and bring to a boil, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the skillet. Add lemon juice and let boil another minute or so.

Set slow cooker to high setting. Add fennel, onions, garlic, potatoes, and carrots. Lightly season with salt, pepper, and Herbes de Provence.

Place Cornish hens on top of vegetables. Add 1 T. of butter each to the interior of the hens.

Pour wine/lemon juice mixture over hens and vegetables. Cover and let cook 4 hours or high or 6 hours or low. The internal temperature of the Cornish game hens should be 180 degrees F.

Place vegetables on the plate and add game hen on top or side of vegetables. Spoon sauce over everything and enjoy!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas Eve Seafood Chowder

If you love seafood, this is an elegant and impressive chowder to serve on special occasions. The chowder is very easy to prepare with an incredibly rich-tasting broth which begins with smoky bacon, fresh fennel, and thyme. Add the seafood at the end of the cooking time for just a few minutes of simmering to prevent it from becoming overcooked and tough.

I used cod, shrimp, oysters, and mussels.

5 strips thick sliced bacon, diced
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced fennel bulb, fronds reserved
1 T. unsalted butter

2 T. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dry white wine

3 bottles clam juice (8 oz. each)
1 1/2 cup diced peeled potatoes
12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 8 oz.)
16 oz. mussels, debearded
8 oz. firm white fish such as cod, cut into 1-inch chunks
8 oz. oysters

1/2 cup heavy cream
1 t. minced fresh thyme
Tabasco sauce to taste

Saute bacon in a pot until crisp; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate. Pour off all but 1 T. drippings. Add onion, fennel, and butter to pot, cover, and sweat over medium heat until vegetables are translucent about 5 minutes.

Stir in flour and cook 1 minute, then add wine and boil 1 minute.

Add clam juice and potatoes, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Bring liquid to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce to medium-low, and simmer until potatoes are fork tender, 8 - 10 minutes.

Stir in shrimp, mussels, and fish. Cover pot; simmer chowder until fish and shrimp are cooked through and mussels open, about 5 minutes. Discard any unopened mussels.

Stir in oysters, cream, and thyme and simmer chowder to heat through 2-3 minutes more. Season chowder with salt and Tabasco. Top servings with diced bacon and fennel fronds. Serve with toasted bread.

Recipe courtesy of Cuisine: Celebrate the Seasons

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Christmas Table 2017 - Twelve Days of Christmas

This year's Christmas table featured the Twelve Days of Christmas as place settings! I got a really great deal on these Better Homes and Gardens plates, salad plates, bowls, mugs, and serving pieces!

The table runner was purchased from a very nice Amish lady in Lancaster, PA several years ago while we were on vacation.  The glassware was won on an online auction site.  

The dinner plates and bowls have the rim showing the Twelve Days of Christmas along with the wording.

The salad plates and mugs are divided into groups of the Twelve Days.

I loved how the place settings contrasted with the deep red chargers.

Santa Table - Christmas 2017

We were expecting two more grandchildren here this weekend, but the eldest grandson is sick, so hopefully, they will be able to visit next weekend.  I love to decorate with Santas and this is a great mix and match of all sorts of St. Nick.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Old Bay Salmon Patty

If you've been keeping up with the saga of my broken foot, we're almost to the end of the story. I am once again vertical (after11 weeks!) and tonight was the first night I've been able to stand and cook supper from start to finish!

To reward Sweet Harold for all his hard work in taking care of me and the house and the cooking, cleaning, laundry......I made one of his favorites:  Salmon Patties. For this meal, I seasoned with Old Bay seasoning. These were delicious!

2 large cans boneless/skinless salmon (drained and flaked)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 T. chopped parsley
2 t. Old Bay Seasoning
1 t. minced garlic
3 T. self-rising flour
Vegetable oil

In a medium bowl, lightly mix first six ingredients with a fork until well blended.  

In a large skillet, add enough vegetable oil to have a depth of about 1/4 inch. Heat over high heat until oil shimmers. 

Shape salmon mixture into equal sized patties. With this amount, I usually have 7 or 8 patties. Lower heat to medium-high and fry salmon patties in batches, turning when one side is golden brown, about 3 - 4 minutes each side. Drain on paper towels. Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.