Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

Veal Scaloppine with Saffron Cream Sauce

Everyone needs a showstopper dish to bring out to show off a little for family and friends. This dish has a few expensive ingredients, but this dish is entirely worth it for those special occasion meals.

Prepare and assemble all ingredients before you begin to cook. The veal cooks extremely fast, and you need to be ready to get the remainder of the ingredients into the pan.

1 lb. veal scaloppine (about 12 slices)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 T. unsalted butter, or more as needed
3 T. olive oil, or more as needed
12 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 cup low sodium beef broth
3/4 cup dry white wine
1/4 t. crumbled saffron threads
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
4 lemon wedges

Sprinkle the veal with salt and pepper. Melt 1/2 T. of the butter with 2 t. of the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over high heat. Working in 3 batches, and the veal and saute until just cooked through and golden, about 45 seconds per side. Transfer the veal to a platter and tent with foil to keep it warm. Repeat with the remaining veal, adding more butter and oil to the pan as necessary.

Melt 1 T. of the butter and 1 T. of the oil in the same pan, over high heat. Add the mushrooms and shallots. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute until the mushrooms are golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Add the broth, wine, and saffron, and simmer until the liquid reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add the cream and boil until the sauce thickens slightly, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Add the peas and return the sauce to a simmer. Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

Return the veal to the sauce and let heat through. Serve with mashed potatoes or pasta. Don't forget to serve lemon wedges on the side.

Adapted from Giada's Family Dinners.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Wing Wednesdays: Cilantro Lime Wings

It's that time again! Time to try a new flavor of chicken wings. While shopping recently, I came across a new seasoning blend:  Tone's Cilantro Lime. I purchased it thinking at the time that I would use it on steaks for fajitas or tacos. But what better time to try it out than for Wing Wednesday?

2 lbs. chicken wings, separated and end tips discarded
olive oil
1 - 2 T. Tone's Cilantro Lime Seasoning Blend.
2 - 3 T. unsalted butter
1 - 2 T. fresh lime juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, add wings and drizzle with olive oil. Toss to completely coat the wings. Sprinkle on the seasoning blend and toss to coat.

Spread the wings in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet. Add additional seasoning blend on any of the wings that might have missed a spot here or there.

Bake for 30 - 45 minutes or until wings reach an internal temperature of 166 degrees F.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir in lime juice and carefully spoon over chicken wings. Serve immediately with additional lime wedges.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Dining Out Gulf Coast: Mr. G's Smoke House and Seafood Grill, Mexico Beach, FL

During our recent trip to the Gulf Coast last month, we were anxious to try some more of the tacos offered at Mr. G's Smoke House and Seafood Grill, 2904 U.S. Highway 98, Mexico Beach, FL 32456

The menu has many options with very clever names!  

I tried The Californian -- Sesame Seared Ahi Tuna served on a bed of fresh cabbage, pineapple mandarin drizzle, topped with guacamole salsa, cilantro, and lime.  The tuna was perfectly cooked, the cabbage was fresh and crunchy, and the condiments were delish.  This a very large taco!  No skimping on the filling at all.

Next up is the Bay Shrimp, tender local bay shrimp grilled to perfection, served on a bed of fresh cabbage with a pineapple mandarin drizzle topped with cilantro and lime.

 And last, but certainly not least, the South of the Border -- crispy fried whitefish fillet served on tequila chili lime sauce, fresh cabbage, cilantro, and lime spritz.

The pictures aren't the best and for that, I apologize. These were snapped while seating under a beach umbrella directly on the beach and we couldn't wait to dig in for our lunch!  

If you're ever passing through Mexico Beach, or are lucky enough to stay there for a few days, please check out Mr. G's.  You'll be very happy.  Each of these tacos was seasoned properly, cooked to perfection, and the toppings were fresh and tasty.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Italian Chicken Tenders with Pesto over Five Cheese Tortellini

This dish is an excellent choice for busy weeknights because you can go the traditional route to make it or use lots of shortcuts. If you don't have the time to make pesto yourself, by all means, you can use a jarred pesto. I picked up a package of refrigerated five cheese tortellini which cooked in about 4 minutes.

The chicken tenders were seasoned with Italian bread crumbs and then baked.  If you're so inclined to make your own pesto, here's a link to my recipe.

1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken tenders
1/2 cup flour
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 egg whisked with 1 T. water
1/2 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
1 cup pesto
1 lb. fresh tortellini

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a shallow plate, mix together flour, salt, and pepper.

In a second shallow plate, add beaten egg/water.

In a third shallow plate, add Italian breadcrumbs.

Place one chicken tender into the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides with flour. Then dip into egg wash to cover with sides, and gently place in Italian breadcrumbs. Press into the breadcrumbs until both sides are completely covered.

Place in baking dish and repeat with remaining chicken tenders.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

During the last 5 - 6 minutes of baking, prepare the refrigerated tortellini according to package directions.

Drain pasta and place a serving size onto your plate. Top with a few tablespoons of pesto.  Top the pasta with chicken tenders and spoon a little more pesto on top.  You can also add grated parmesan if you'd like.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Oven Baked Panko Crusted Chicken Tenders

If you and your family love crunchy chicken tenders, but don't like the added calories from fried foods (or worse from fast food restaurants), try this quick and easy homemade version.

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1/2 cup flour
2 t. dry Ranch dressing mix
1 egg, slightly beaten with 1 T. water
1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a shallow plate, mix together flour and Ranch dressing mix.

In a second shallow plate, add beaten egg/water.

In a third shallow plate, add Panko.

Place one chicken tender into the flour mixture and turn to coat both sides with flour. Then dip into egg wash to cover with sides, and gently place in Panko crumbs. Press into the Panko until both sides are completely covered.

Place in baking dish and repeat with remaining chicken tenders.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

I hope you enjoy these as well as we did!

Monday, June 4, 2018

Dining Out Gulf Coast: Cuvee 30A, Inlet Beach, FL

While on the Gulf Coast, we had the distinct pleasure of dining at Tim Creehan's Cuvee 30A. From the moment we entered the restaurant until we left everything was perfect.  We dined outside, the atmosphere was divine, the service was excellent, and the food choices were incredible.

We dined outdoors but had a drink at the beautiful bar before going to our table.

I enjoyed a Lemon Drop Martini served in a stainless steel martini glass. This one stayed COLD!

We were offered a tour of the wine room and learned a LOT of interesting things about a variety of wines. Very impressive selections here!

Now on to our table and a new drink selection. I requested Prosecco, but our lovely and knowledgeable serve Sarah, encouraged me to try an Aperol Spritz. This is now my Cocktail of Summer!

This refreshing cocktail is simply made with just a few ingredients but definitely packs in the flavor with a combination of prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. Doesn't that look delicious?

Sarah prepared an oil/vinegar seasoning blend for bread dipping right at the table.

We informed Sarah at the beginning of the meal that we were in no hurry and wanted to take our time enjoying every moment of this amazing experience. She never made us feel rushed and made wonderful suggestions at every stage of the meal.

Now....on to appetizers!

As soon as Sweet Harold spied escargot on the appetizer menu, he was sold. His remarks included, "so tender," "buttery with lots of garlic," "so delicious."  I think that says it all!

Y'all know if Fried Green Tomatoes are anywhere to be found, they will be on my plate. Look at this gorgeous presentation. Fried green tomatoes layered with warm Brie, topped with crawfish tails and then covered with a Crystal hot sauce and butter sauce.  Could it possibly be any better than that?? Sarah noted it was one of their most popular appetizers and I know why. I would never have thought to add Brie to this mix, but it was so ooey gooey and tempered the hot sauce. I could have made a meal on these.

We had reviewed the online menu carefully a few days before. We were positive on what our dinner choices would be. Then.....Sarah told us the night's specials. So much for making our choices ahead of time. When she said the phrase "King Crab Hollandaise," I didn't care what it was served with, I knew I wanted to try that combination. My serving was a very generously sized portion of snapper over perfectly sautéed spinach then topped with a rich and creamy King Crab Hollandaise and meunière sauces. This is one of those dishes you'll think back on fondly.

I regret that I did not place a dime or a quarter next to this 24 oz. cowboy rib for size reference. This was definitely a Flintstone size steak.  Sweet Harold was up for the challenge and ordered this beauty cooked to medium rare. He chose bacon braised green beans and garlic mashed potatoes as his sides. Yes, in case you're wondering, he ate every bite. The steak was perfectly cooked and the sides were well seasoned and served hot! One of my pet peeves are side dishes served lukewarm.

He does look happy!

I know you will find it hard to believe, but we chose to enjoy dessert as well. How could you enjoy a meal like this and not at least attempt dessert?

How about a Godiva Chocolate Martini? This one is made with Stoli Vodka, Godiva White and Dark Chocolate Liqueur with cream topped with chocolate shavings. So deliciously decadent!

And now on to the dessert sampler platter!

White chocolate banana cream pie
Valrhona Chocolate Crepes
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Berries
Key West Lime Pie with whipped cream
Chocolate Sin Cake (flourless chocolate cake with High Road Vanilla Ice Cream with chocolate balsamic and fresh berries
Corleone (High Road Vanilla Ice Cream, rolled in white and dark chocolate ice cream, almonds, pecans, cinnamon and nutmeg, topped with honey)

This meal definitely rates as one of the Top Five meals we've ever enjoyed. From the moment we were greeted at the hostess station until we were almost rolled to the car, we loved every minute spent at Cuvee 30A.  I hope if you're ever visiting Inlet Beach, Florida, you will spend an evening there as well.

Wing Wednesday: Hickory Smoked

I've been wanting to smoke chicken wings in the smoker for some time now. When we had the smoker all fired up for Memorial Day cooking, I knew the time was right.

I mixed up a seasoning blend that was just the right amount for 2 pounds of wings. If you like your wings with a lot of heat or lots of dry rub, adjust accordingly.

2 t. salt
1 t. paprika
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. onion powder
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
1 t. freshly ground black pepper. 
2 lbs. chicken wings

Season wings with the seasoning blend and place in smoker using hickory chips. Let wings smoke at 250 degrees F. for 2 1/2 - 3 hours or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Serve immediately with your favorite BBQ sauce or Ranch Dressing on the side.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pineapple Breeze Punch

Granddaughter #2 requested a summertime punch for our Memorial Day meal. She loves the flavor of pineapple, so this one was an easy fix!

1 large can of Pineapple Juice
1 2-liter Sunkist Pineapple Soda
1-quart Pineapple Sherbet

Chill the pineapple juice and soda until cold. Add juice and pineapple soda to a large punch bowl. Spoon pineapple sherbet onto the top of punch and serve.

For an adult beverage, a shot of pineapple vodka can be added to each serving.

Memorial Day 2018 Table

Some of my most favorite tables are the Patriotically themed tables. I love the combination of red/white/blue. Fiestaware shines on this table.

A sweet friend gifted me these lovely gardenias from her garden. They were the perfect centerpiece.

The square silver chargers set off the rich Fiestaware colors in all their glory!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wing Wednesdays: Hot Pepper Infused Honey Glazed Wings

It's Wing Wednesday! I'll begin the blog post by stating that of all the wings I've made in my lifetime, THESE were my favorite!

Recently, we enjoyed the National Cornbread Festival in South Pittsburg, TN. One of the vendors at the Festival was the Mojo Bee Company. One of their products for sale was a Hot Pepper Infused Honey. As soon as I saw the bottle (and tasted the honey!), I knew I was going to glaze some chicken wings.

One of the secrets to great baked wings is to cook them at a low temperature for at least an hour, increase the heat and let the wings crisp, and then glaze with the honey mixture.  Then, back into the oven for a little bit longer and you're in for a great treat!

2 lbs. chicken wings
kosher salt
black pepper
4 T. butter
1/2 cup Mojo Bee Company Hot Pepper Infused Honey

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Place chicken wings in a single layer on baking sheet. Season well with salt and pepper.

Place in oven and let bake for an hour. Remove from oven and, using tongs, turn chicken wings over. Increase heat to 375 degrees F. Return wings to oven for 20 minutes.

Heat butter and honey together over low heat. Remove wings from oven and brush butter/honey mixture evenly over wings.

Return to oven for 5 minutes or so until glaze browns on the wings. Serve immediately.

You can check out Mojo Bee Company on Facebook!

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Dining Out Gulf Coast: Pepper's Mexican Grill, Port St. Joe, FL

Let me begin by saying that we LOVE Pepper's Mexican Grill and Cantina.  Pepper's is always a must when we visit nearby Mexico Beach.  An added bonus for today's meal is it's Cinco de Mayo! To say everyone was in a festive mood is an understatement.  

Chips and Salsa were delivered promptly. As in before we even opened the menus! From a previous visit, I remembered the name of the particular margarita I had enjoyed.  We both ordered the Guadalajara Margarita (medium sized please!) $11.99 each and worth every penny.  This is the best margarita I've ever had anywhere, hands down. 

The chips were fresh and hot and the salsa was extremely fresh tasting with just a hint of heat.

We ordered Queso Fundido to enjoy while we reviewed the extensive menu for our entree options. With this cheese dip, you have your choice of grilled chicken, Mexican chorizo, or mushrooms. We opted for the Mexico chorizo. Served VERY HOT along with flour tortillas.  $7.99 

I was determined we were not going to order the same old chimichangas, enchiladas, tacos, etc. Sweet Harold went along with the plan and ordered Camarones a la ADiabla which is fresh local shrimp sauteed in their homemade cayenne pepper sauce.  $12.99  If you like a little heat, order this one. The flavor didn't overpower the delicate shrimp. I would give anything for their recipe for the cayenne sauce! He chose beans and a salad as his two sides. The salad had plenty of sour cream and guacamole as the dressing. He was very happy with his choice.

Now it's my turn! How's this for a celebratory dish:  The Mariachi. My order was a LARGE piece of grilled fish topped with juicy shrimp, tomatoes, onions, cilantro, and jalapenos.  $15.99.  I chose beans and grilled veggies for my sides. I didn't miss the rice at all. The fish was perfectly cooked, the shrimp were plentiful, and the vegetables included broccoli, carrots, squash, and zucchini.  Everything on this plate was perfect.

Even with a large crowd of Cinco de Mayo celebrants, service was never rushed and the food was delivered very promptly. Ask for Lucaz. He was a great server today!

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Philly Cheesesteak Stuffed Peppers

Sweet Harold LOVES stuffed peppers. I've been trying to come up with a filling that doesn't have rice. (We're trying to be mindful of those pesky carbs right now!) One of our favorite sandwiches is Philly Cheesesteak, so why not combine all those good flavors into a stuffed pepper? This was an experiment that worked out deliciously!

4 yellow, red, or orange bell peppers
2 T. olive oil
1 pound beef round steak, sliced very thin against the grain
2 t. paprika
1 T. granulated garlic
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 large green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
16 slices of provolone cheese
chopped fresh parsley for garnishing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with non-stick spray.  

Wash and slice yellow, red, and orange bell peppers lengthwise and remove seeds and inner membranes.  Place the prepared bell peppers in the prepared baking dish. Carefully add 1/4 cup water to the bottom of the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

While peppers are baking, prepare the filling.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Place meat in skillet along with paprika, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and pepper. Stirring frequently, cook until meat has cooked through and remove meat to a bowl and cover. Keep as much sauce in the skillet as possible.

Add butter and 1 T. of Worcestershire to skillet along with the sauce from cooking the meat. Add onions, bell peppers, salt, and pepper.  Lower heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or so until onions and peppers have softened.

Remove peppers from oven. Cut each slice of provolone into four pieces. Place two pieces into the bottom of each pepper. Divide beef equally into each pepper. Then, divide peppers and onions equally into each pepper. Top filled peppers with remaining cheese pieces. Cover baking dish with foil and return to oven.

Bake for an additional 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and top with chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Grilled Smokehouse Maple Grilled Pork Tenderloin

As I was perusing the new seasoning blends at the grocery store, I happen to see a new (to me) product from McCormick.  McCormick's Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple seasoning blend has a wonderful maple taste that's slightly smoky. Simply sprinkle over pork, chicken, or salmon at a ratio of about 1 T. per pound of protein. Tenderloin is very lean so make sure you have an instant-read thermometer handy to keep a close eye on the internal temperature while cooking.  

2 - 1 lb. pork tenderloins

Preheat gas grill on high until grill reaches a temperature of 400 degrees F.

Unwrap pork tenderloins and pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle on both sides with the seasoning blend. Place on hot grill and lower heat to maintain a constant heat temperature of 350 degrees F. Let pork cook until it releases easily from the grill. Turn the tenderloin over and continue cooking. Cook the pork to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.

Remove the pork from the grill and place on a serving platter. Let pork rest 10 minutes or so before slicing. 

I would definitely recommend the seasoning blend. The pork was so juicy and flavorful. I'm so glad grilling season is here!

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Dining Out Southeast: Bistro 218, Birmingham, Alabama

One of our favorite places to dine in Birmingham is Bistro 218. The restaurant is located within an easy walking distance of the historic Lyric Theatre and the Alabama Theater. The exposed brick walls and intimate setting make for a wonderful dining experience. 

We started our meal with a few cocktails. I appreciate the attention to details such as the LARGE single cube of ice in these drinks. The bourbon selection covered all the bases.

Woodford Reserve $13

Sazerac $12 Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Peychaud's Bitters, Demerara Simple Syrup, Absinthe

These two drinks were excellent.  They also have an extensive wine selection.

French Martini $9 Vodka, Pineapple Juice, Chambord, Twist

French 76 $10
Sparkling Wine, Gin, St. Germain, Lemon

Then we moved on to appetizers and ordered a selection so we could all share.

House Cured Pork Belly $12
Barbwire Farms Duck Egg, McEwen's Grits, Gastrique
If you've ever been intrigued by pork belly on the menu, wait and order it at Bistro 218. The grits were cooked perfectly, the pork belly was tender and flavorful and the over easy duck egg was perfection.

Maryland Style Crab Cakes with white wine butter sauce $15
I've eaten crab cakes in Maryland. I've never had any that were better than these little bites of heaven. They were very delicate and lightly seasoned. The white wine butter sauce could be a beverage for me. Just kidding.  I think.

Half Dozen Cedar Key, Florida Oysters served with mignonette and cocktail sauce $18
Freshly shucked, served on a bed of ice, with a wonderful briny flavor. You almost didn't need the accompanying condiments. But I'm glad they were served. I favored the mignonette over the cocktail.

Now on to the entrees!

Pan Seared Gulf Snapper, fettuccine alfredo, basil oil, oven roast tomato $32
Our server recommended this dish for Sweet Harold. The snapper was perfectly cooked. The alfredo was rich and cheesy. I snuck a bite and loved the basil oil. Everything worked in perfect balance on this place with textures and flavors. A gorgeous plate, isn't it? 

Char Grilled Colorado Lamb Chop, spring peas, baby carrots, fingerling potato, button mushrooms $32
Once again, a perfectly cooked, well-seasoned meal. This diner noted that even though he doesn't care for mushrooms, this meal won him over. 

Butter Basted Sea Scallops, oven roast tomato, wilted baby spinach, baby red potato $29
Another diner and I both ordered the butter basted sea scallops. I mean, think about it.  Butter Basted Scallops. There is an art form in learning how to sear scallops to obtain that gorgeous color and taking them off the heat at the exact moment before they become tough. The chef knows this art form. Another gorgeous meal that tasted even better than it looked.

And believe it or not.....we all ordered dessert! Again, choose different options and share with the group! Or not.

Dark Chocolate Raspberry Tart with raspberry coulis $8
If Sweet Harold sees dark chocolate on the menu, he will order that option in a heartbeat. He gave two thumbs up to this selection.

Trio of Mousse: Godiva Chocolate, Vanilla, Orange, served with Madeleine $8
I was intrigued by the Trio of Mousse selection especially when I noted the mousse was served with madeleines.  The trio offered a nice counterbalance to each other and the madeleines were delicate and flavorful.

Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée $8
We all listened carefully and the CRACK of the spoon breaking through the hard sugar shell was loud and clear. The custard underneath was creamy and smooth.

Mignardise (small bites) Pot de Crème, Chocolate Sable, Lemon Truffle, Macaroons, Pistachio $8
And when you honestly can't decide which dessert to order, Bistro 218 helpfully provides a sampler option. Each bite on this plate was better than the last. The addition of the pistachios was a nice surprise.

If you're looking for a new place to try in downtown Birmingham, I hope you'll give Bistro 218 a try. The entire evening was perfect from the ambiance, service, and most definitely the food.