Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Quinoa

First we'll have a little lesson on Quinoa.  Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) seed that has a fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture and a somewhat nutty flavor when cooked. Quinoa is available in your local health food stores throughout the year. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas."

This was a "develop as you go" recipe and it turned out wonderfully.  I can't wait to try some different ways to incorporate this healthy, protein rich food into our meals.

1 lb. chicken breast tenderloins
2 1/2 cups water
1 t. chicken base
1 T. Chipotle seasoning

1 t. olive oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
salt and pepper to taste

1 cup corn kernels
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Bring water, chicken base and chipotle seasoning to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Add chicken tenders and reduce heat to a simmer.  Let chicken poach for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.  Remove chicken tenders to a plate to cool and strain chicken broth.  You'll need at least 1 3/4 cup of liquid.  Add water to make up the difference.

While chicken cooks, heat oil in a medium skillet.  Stir in onion and garlic and saute until lightly browned.  Add quinoa into skillet and stired until well mixed with onion and garlic.

Return broth to saucepan and bring to a boil.  Add the onions/garlic/quinoa mix.  Stir well, cover and reduce heat to a simmer.  Cook for 20 minutes.

While quinoa cooks, shred chicken.

After 20 minutes the quinoa will be almost cooked to perfection. 

Add black beans, corn, chicken, Rotel tomatoes and cilantro.  Stir well and let cook over low heat for an additional 5 minutes until heated through.
Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.  You can also add cumin, cayenne or any sort of chili seasoning you prefer. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Something Else Cafe

We went out exploring in the Quarter and stumbled upon the Something Else Cafe at the corner of Royal and Conti (620 Conti Street).  A few tables positioned outside, but we ventured indoors because it was a tad cool and damp on that Sunday morning.  The inside of the Something Else Cafe was just a charming diner type place with seating for about 30 or so. 

We started out with what may have been the best Bloody Mary I've ever ordered in a restaurant. 

The breakfast menu is varied and includes pancakes, omelettes, biscuits and nice a la carte offerings.

I continued my love affair with pig and chose the Cochon Biscuit described on the menu as piled high with pulled pork.  Oh yeah.

Sweet Harold chose the Chicken Fried Biscuit described as fried chicken strips topped with sausage gravy.

We shared the Loaded Hashbrowns which was cubed potatoes, onions, peppers, sausage, bacon, cheese and topped with a fried egg.  Dee-licious.

We thoroughly enjoyed our breakfast at Something Else Cafe.  I already know what I'm going to order the next time I'm there:  Crabcake Nola - crabcake and sunnyside up egg swiming in creamy corn machoux. 

Pascal's Manale

Our friends Bob and Lisa planned our trip to Three Muses and then escorted us to Pascal's Manale for dinner.  http://www.nola.com/sites/pascals/menu.html

This is a neat restaurant which opened in 1913.  The classic BBQ Shrimp dish originated in this restaurant. 

We started with raw oysters in the bar area while we waited for our table.  They were large, cold and perfect. 

One of our friends ordered the BBQ Shrimp.  Granted their not BBQ'd the way we would think.

Sweet Harold's dinner:  Shrimp, onions, pepper, mushrooms with marinara over pasta

My dinner:  Shrimp, crab, oysters in marinara over angel hair pasta

A wonderful evening with our friends.  We'll definitely be back to Pascale's Manale.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Chicken Cutlet with Puttanesca Sauce

Sweet Harold loves chicken dishes. Granted, he would have preferred these chicken breasts battered and fried (who wouldn't?) I tried to please him with this tasty version served with whole grain pasta. He gave it a two thumbs up.

Puttanesca = served with or being a pungent tomato sauce typically containing olives, garlic, hot peppers, capers, and sometimes anchovies. 

Here we go:
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
4 large boneless, skinless, thin-sliced chicken breast cutlets (4 ounces each)
Salt and black pepper
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (28 ounces) plum tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
8 ounces whole-wheat pasta

Preheat oven to 250°F. Warm 2 teaspoons of oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Season cutlets with salt and pepper; add to hot pan and cook 2 minutes, until browned. Flip; cook 30 seconds. Transfer cutlets to a baking sheet; cover with foil and place in oven to keep warm.

Add remaining 2 teaspoons of oil to the same skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 10 seconds, stirring. Add tomatoes, olives, capers, and pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Cook 5 minutes, until slightly thickened, stirring to break up tomatoes. Stir in lemon juice and basil.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain. Toss with tomato sauce; serve with cutlets.

From the South Beach Diet Cookbook

Grilled 5-Spice Salmon over Soba Noodles

South Beach diet recipes continue. I love grilled salmon and soba noodles are low on the glycemic index so this was a perfect pairing.

Oh five spice powder. The Chinese gave us a wonderful seasoning blend of cloves, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds and Szechuan peppercorns. With five spice power you get to taste sour, bitter, sweet, pungent, and salty all at once. If you’ve never tried five-spice powder before, you might want to start with half the amount and then add more later. 

Soba noodles cook super fast (within 3 minutes). While you wait on the water to boil, saute' a large bag of spinach in a little olive oil. Add some minced garlic and salt and cook until just wilted. Remove from heat. After the soba noodles are cooked, drain and mix in with the spinach. Give it a couple of dashes of soy sauce and stir well. This will be the base to place the yummy salmon.

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1/2 teaspoon sugar substitute
1 pound salmon steaks, cut into 4 equal pieces
8 cups fresh baby-spinach leaves
2 cloves garlic, pressed

In a 2-quart dish, combine the lime peel, lime juice, 1 teaspoon of the oil, ginger, five-spice powder, and sugar substitute. Add the salmon and turn to coat. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Remove the salmon from the marinade and place on the grill rack. Brush the salmon with additional marinade. Close the grill cover and cook for 4 minutes. Open the grill cover, turn the salmon, and brush with marinade. Close the cover and cook for 4 minutes longer, or until the salmon flakes easily. Discard any remaining marinade.

I cooked indoors on a grill pan but for the same time, 4 minutes per side. When salmon is done, place on top of soba noodles. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Crustless Ham, Broccoli & Cheese Quiches

Continuing with our decision to reduce carbs for awhile, I decided to rework a Martha Stewart crustless quiche recipe a bit.  Here's my version:

olive oil
3/4 cup finely chopped broccoli
1 cup small diced ham
6 large eggs
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded Gruyere Cheese
1/2 cup shredded Irish Cheddar Cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray ramekins with cooking spray and set aside.

Heat 2 T. olive oil in a medium skillet. Saute' broccoli and ham until broccoli is softened and ham is browned about 4 - 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in broccoli and ham. Gently stir in cheeses.

Place ramekins on rimmed baking sheet. Ladle egg mixture into ramekins, dividing equally. Bake until golden brown, 35 - 40 minutes. 

Next time I'd probably had more cheese because, seriously, what's not better with more cheese?

Friday, January 21, 2011

Beef with Asparagus and Mushrooms

Yes, the holidays are over and the scale didn't look too happy this morning. I decided for the next week or so we'd make a concentrated effort to cut back a little on the carb overload we've been enjoying here lately. With the cold weather, snow, and darkness settling in by 5 p.m., it's easy to crave those carb filled comfort foods.

This is a recipe from the South Beach Diet website and it's a Phase I meal at that. It was a nice change of pace and we both enjoyed it.

1 1/2 lbs. London broil, 1" thick
4 garlic cloves, minced, divided
4 t. crushed dried rosemary, divided
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, sliced lengthwise
1 pound asparagus, cut ino 2" pieces
1 pound white mushrooms, sliced
2 t. grated lemon zest
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Score both sides of steak in a diamond pattern by carefully making 1/8 inch deep diagonal cuts with a sharp knife at 1" intervals. Rub half of the garlic and 2 t. of the rosemary into both sides of meat and season with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 T. of the oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add steak and cook, turning once, about 4 minutes per side for medium rare. Transfer to a plate and loosely cover with foil to keep warm.

Heat remaining oil in the same skillet. Add onion and  cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes. Add remaining garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add asparagus and mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until asparagus is crisp-tender and almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Stir in lemon zest and remaining rosemary; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut steak into thin slices and serve with the vegetables.

New Orleans Recap Part II

Saturday afternoon was spent browsing shops in the Quarter and then it was time to get changed for an evening of fun. 

We started at The Three Muses on Frenchmen's Street for an hour or so of great music.  The Pfister Sisters were performing and gave us a great show.  We didn't sample the food, but the dishes passing back and forth through the dining area looked and smelled fantastic.  We'll make plans to go back there on our next trip to try some of those tapas and enjoy some excellent music.  Check it out.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Dinner Invitation

If you could receive a dinner invitation to any restaurant within a 30 mile radius of your home where would you hope it be would and what would you order?

New Orleans Recap

As always we had a wonderful trip to New Orleans last weekend.  Met up with some long time friends and met some new ones.  Everytime we get there I always have the overwhelming feeling that I've come home.  Maybe I lived there in a past life? 

We chose to stay at The Avenue Garden Hotel on St. Charles Avenue for this trip. 

The building was built in 1883.  We're not cookie cutter hotel people.  We don't stay in chains unless we have to and look for the ones with character and personality.  The Avenue Garden fit us perfectly. 

Red Rum anyone?

The French Doors opened up to a large balcony overlooking St. Charles Avenue and the street car line.  Just a perfect spot.  Is that Fleurdelolly trying to connect to the internet for blogging and texting on her cell phone at the same time?  Always multi-tasking.

The streetcars run 24/7...even in my sleep I got in the rhythm of sound of the streetcar sliding to a stop right outside our window.  Loved it.

Right next door to the hotel is Slice Pizzeria

We met up with friends there for supper on Friday night.  We were all starving and unfortunately, I totally forget to take a picture of our yummy breadsticks with melted cheese and my Greek Salad. 

We choose a Greek Pizza with artichokes, red onions, kalamata olives, oregano and white sauce.  A very thin crunchy crust and cooked perfectly.

Our dining companions enjoyed steamed mussels and a calzone.  The calzone diner stated it was the best he had ever eaten. 

Saturday we met up with friends at Napoleon House.

What a beautiful location to have a meal with friends and enjoy the beautiful weather in the courtyard.  You can't dine at Napoleon House without trying their signature drink the Pimms Cup.  The recipe is on the website. 

I tried the chicken and sausage jambalaya.  It was mildly seasoned and the rice was cooked to perfection. 

Sweet Harold chose a side portion of the jambalaya to go along with his corned beef po'boy.  Why on earth did he choose corned beef when he could have had a New Orleans roast beef?  Oh well, it was his meal and he thoroughly enjoyed both.  ; )

Note his half empty Pimms glass!

Dining companion #1 had a Greek salad with a nice bowl of gumbo

Dining companion #2 had a quarter muffaletta and a side of jambalaya.  A not so good camera shot, but look carefully and you can glimpse the sandwich.  Their version of the sandwich is heated which suited this diner perfectly she said.

Dining companion #3 enjoyed the shrimp stuffed avocado

More to come in the next few days.....hopefully some of the dining companions will chime in with their own observations of the meals. 

Friday, January 14, 2011

New Orleans Here I Come!

We're leaving the frozen North Alabama countryside for a few days in New Orleans.  Keep checking in for restaurant talk and a running (hopefully entertaining) commentary on Lolly and Sweet Harold's Country Goes to Town adventure.  I hope this one goes smoothly.  We were there the day before Katrina and had to evacuate the City in a cab to Hattiesburg.  But that's another story for another day.  Any suggestions for meals and neat places to try?  Let me hear them!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I love this quote from Erma Bombeck:

‎"Once you get a spice in your home, you have it forever. Women never throw out spices. The Egyptians were buried with their spices. I know which one I'm taking with me when I go."

If you could only use one spice for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

Cayenne?  Cumin?  Cinnamon?  Ginger?

Discuss/debate please!  I'm going to think about this one and post my answer later.

Beef Andouille Burger

Sweet Harold and I love New Orleans.  We have friends for life who live there or nearby.  Po'boys are a favorite anytime when we visit.  One day last Spring, I decided I'd go for a po'boy version of a burger.  Here's the result.

Start with one pound of ground chuck and one pound of andouille sausage mixed lightly together. Add Tony's Seasoning (to taste), a couple of very thinly sliced green onions, salt and pepper, and a few shakes each of Worcestershire Sauce and Louisiana Hot Sauce.  Shape into elongated patties which will fit perfectly on French bread.

Grill until desired doneness and then toast sliced French bread on the grill.

Top with Creole mustard, thick sliced tomatoes, grilled onions, shredded lettuce, mayo. For the ultimate BA Burger, top with grilled shrimp.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Alabama Snow

In Alabama we go into panic mode at the mention of snow. We empty store shelves, pray that the power stays on, make sleds out of whatever we can find & for a few days our lives come to a complete stop while we marvel at what most of the country takes as a matter of course for many months of the year. Our plows are behind mules laying out corn & okra rows, not getting snow off streets. Rock salt is used for its intended purpose of freezing ice cream, not pouring onto concrete steps to keep us from busting our behinds. I love that for a few days we’re all 10 years old again and act that way.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Beef Burgers with Peanut Chipotle BBQ Sauce

This morning my eyes fell upon my 2010 Annual Cookbook from Food & Wine.  I told Sweet Harold that I was going to open it at random and as long as it wasn't a dessert recipe, I was going to cook whatever happened to be on that page for supper.  He's always a little scared when I do that, but I call it Adventure Cooking.

And there on Page 152 just waiting on me was a submission from Bobby Flay:  Beef Burgers with Peanut Chipotle BBQ Sauce.  Read through the ingredients and had most of them on hand.  So the decision was made.

First you make the BBQ sauce and as it simmers you can cook the burgers.  We're getting ready for a winter storm here in North Alabama, so I didn't ask him to waste our precious propane gas on the grill to cook these tonight. 

Here we go:

For the sauce:
1 T. vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 T. minced fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup tomato puree (I used tomato sauce with roasted garlic)
2 T. ketchup
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. Worcesershire sauce
1 1/2 T. Dijon mustard
2 T. honey
2 T. molasses
3 T. pure ancho chile powder
1 canned chipotle in adobo, minced
1/2 cup water
2 T. creamy peanut butter

In a medium saucepan, heat the 1 T. oil.  Add the onion and ginger and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute stirring.  Add the tomato puree, ketchup, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, honey, molasses, ancho chile powder, chipotle and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 30  mnutes.

Transfer the sauce to a blender.  Add the peanut butter and puree until smooth.  Season the BBQ sauce with salt and pepper.

Now to the burgers:
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef chuck
1/3 cup shredded cheddar
1 scallion, finely chopped
hamburger buns

Form the meat into four 1 inch thick patties and brush with oil.  Season with salt and pepper and grill over high heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, about 5 minutes.  Brush the burgers with some of the sauce and grill until lightly glazed about 2 minutes.  Top with the cheddar and scallion, close the grill and cook just until the cheese is completely melted, about 1 minutes.  Set the burgers on the buns, top with lettuce and tomato and serve right away.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Holiday Desserts

If you're like me, you've had a wide variety of holiday goodies to bake, cook and sample the last few weeks.  Cookies, candy, fudge, cakes, pies.  Sigh.  Sugar overload has finally hit. 

What did you prepare or enjoy? 

Peppermint Cheesecake

I love cheesecake. Years and years ago I bought a Philadelphia Cream Cheese Cheesecake Cookbook and we have enjoyed every single one I've made from this book. I really should start at the beginning and make them all in a series for the blog. Yes, I would do it FOR THE GOOD OF THE BLOG. 

This was our dessert for our Christmas night meal.  Perfect ending.

2 - 8 oz. pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
3/4 cup finely crushed peppermint candy, divided
1 Keebler Graham Cracker crust

Mix cream cheese, sugar and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended. Add eggs; mix until blended. Stir in 1/2 cup of the peppermint candy.

Pour into crust. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup peppermint candy

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center is almost set. Cool. Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. Garnish with whipped cream and crushed peppermint candy if desired.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What was the best restaurant meal you enjoyed during 2010?

We had so many great meals last year.  But by far my most enjoyable was at Firefly in Panama City Beach.  Yes, it was my birthday meal, but the memory of the She-crab soup with puff pastry and sherry still makes me smile.  Pictures and review are in the August portion of the archives. 

Runners up include any BBQ "joint."  I am a Pulled Pork lover from childhood.  Vinegar based sauce, please.

So think back to 2010 and let us know what restaurant meal you enjoyed the most. Don't just consider the food, think about the company, the atmosphere, the whole package!

Five Spice Roast Chicken Served with Ginger Scented Rice

 This is one of those dishes that make your kitchen smell soooooooooooo good.  Roasting chicken with yummy onion wedges?  Oh yeah.  I've also discovered that Chinese 5-spice powder is a wonderful addition to my spice cabinet.

4 garlic cloves, pressed
2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 cut up chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds)
1 large onion, peeled; cut into 16 wedges
1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
2 green onions, thinly sliced 

Preheat oven to 425.  Arrange onion wedges and bell pepper strips in 13 x 9 x 2 inch roasting pan.  Arrange chicken, skin side up, atop onions and peppers.  Roast until chicken is cooked through, basting occasionally with pan juices, about 50 minutes.  Remove chicken from oven and let rest 10 minutes.  Arrange chicken and onions on platter and serve.  Top with green onions.

Ginger-Scented Rice
1 3 inch long 1 inch thick piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch thick pieces
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup jasmine rice, rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Using garlic press, squeeze enough fresh ginger into small bowl to measure 1 1/2 tablespoons juice with pulp.  Transfer ginger to small saucepan.

Add 1 1/2 cups water, rice, butter and salt to same pan.  Cover; bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce heat to low and cook, covered, until rice is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let rice sit 10 minutes.  Uncover; fluff rice with fork.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

What was the first full meal you ever cooked?

I was probably 13 or 14 and I remember pestering my mother for weeks for permission to cook supper for my parents and myself.  My mother was not a hands on teacher in the kitchen.  She preferred to have her kitchen to herself and just call us to the table when the meal was ready.  But I had lurked enough and watched enough to believe I could do it on my own. 

I will never understand what came over the poor woman to decide on that particular day to say all right to my begging.  She was probably hoping that one meal would get it out of my system and I'd leave her alone.

But all my lurking and watching paid off with pan fried pork chops, creamed potatoes and fried okra with a nice pan of cornbread on the side.  That was, however, the only meal she ever let me cook in her kitchen. 

So how about you?  What was the first meal you ever cooked?

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope everyone had a great New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.  With the new year, I'm thinking of different ways to make Fleur de Lolly more enjoyable and interactive between us.  Instead of all recipes all the time, I'll be posting some questions about food and the random questions of life and look forward to your answers.  I'd like to ask that all the "followers" of Fleur de Lolly ask a few friends to become followers as well.  I don't like talking to myself all the time!  Let's have fun together.