Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Chickpea and Tomato Whole Grain Penne Pasta

Running channels a few weeks ago and saw Rachel Ray making this dish. Ground chickpeas in tomato sauce? I really wasn't sure about that combination. he explained that using whole grain pasta was very important to the complimentary flavors of the dish. After enjoying this tonight, I have to say I agree.

1 pound whole wheat penne pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 sprig fresh rosemary, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (a couple of healthy pinches)
Black pepper
1 can chickpeas (14-18 ounces), rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
1 can Italian crushed tomatoes or tomato puree (28 ounces)
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley (a handful), chopped
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more to pass at table

Bring a large pot of water to a boil for the pasta. Salt the water and cook the pasta to al dente.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil, three turns of the pan, in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, rosemary, red pepper flakes, salt and black pepper. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until very tender.

Pulse-process the chickpeas in a food processor to finely chop them.  Add the chickpeas to the onion and garlic mixture; add the tomato paste and stir to combine for 1 minute, then stir in the chicken stock and crushed or pureed tomatoes. Adjust the salt and pepper, to taste.

Toss the pasta, cooked to al dente, together with the sauce and serve in shallow bowls. Top with parsley and lots of grated Pecorino Romano cheese.

Serves 4 as an entrée or 8 as a side.

Cheesy Chicken and Broccoli Chowder

I was hungry for potato soup yesterday and then remembered I had some cooked and shredded white meat chicken in the fridge. Why not add some yummy broccoli and go for it? So I did. Oh my, this is my new favorite Fall soup. Until I make a different one and IT becomes my new favorite Fall soup.  

If you like cheese, potatoes, chicken and heavy cream.......well. First of all you are a definite friend of mine. Secondly, this will be YOUR favorite Fall soup.

6 cups chicken stock
10 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into a bite-sized dice
2 T. olive oil
1 T. unsalted butter
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1 T. finely minced garlic
3 T. self-rising flour
2 cups broccoli, rough chopped (steamed and slightly cooled)
1 T. dried thyme
1/2 t. paprika
1 t. salt
1/2 t. white pepper
4 cups cooked shredded chicken
8 oz. block of extra sharp white Cheddar Cheese, grated
8 oz. heavy cream
freshly ground black pepper

In a 5 - 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven, over high heat, bring chicken stock to boiling. Add potatoes and lower heat to a gentle boil and cook until potatoes are fork tender, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, over low heat, heat olive oil and butter and add onions and cook until onions become translucent, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Next stir in flour and cooked for a minute or two until the raw flour taste is gone and remove from heat.

Add the onions and garlic to the potatoes and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes until the flour mixture dissolves and soup begins to thicken.

Remove from heat and add about 2/3 of the broccoli. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup until you reach the desired consistency you want. Add remaining broccoli, seasonings and chicken and stir to combine.

Over very low heat, add the grated cheese and heavy cream and heat through. Ladle into serving bowls and top with additional grated cheese and freshly ground black pepper.

"Mad Scientists" for Halloween Fun!

If you're searching for a fun meal idea for Halloween night, how about creating your own Mad Scientists? This is a fun activity for both kids and adults.

You'll need:
whole wheat tortillas
thinly sliced deli ham or turkey
assorted vegetables such as thinly sliced peppers, carrots, and curly leaf lettuces
cheese slices
olives, both black and green
cocktail onions
curly and flat leaf parsley

Let your imagination run wild!  Not only fun to make, but nutritious as well!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Chicken and Dumplings

I've posted the recipe for chicken and dumplings before, but this batch was so ultimately delicious I had to take another picture and, yes, I'm going to post the recipe again. If you've never attempted this Southern delicacy, please take a little time and make these for yourself and your family. To me, chicken and dumplings ARE the ultimate comfort food.

3 large chicken breasts (bone in) with enough chicken broth or stock to cover completely in a large Dutch oven
1 T. dried thyme
a few grinds of black pepper
1 T. salt

Place the chicken and remaining ingredients in a large Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Let boil for a few minutes and skim off any scum that forms on top of liquid and discard. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Depending on the size of the chicken breasts it will take anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half for them to completely cook through.

Remove chicken breasts from stock and put on a plate and let cool. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken and reserve while you make the dumplings.

Strain stock into another large pot and slowly bring to a boil.

Now let's make the dumplings.
2 cups self-rising flour
1 t. poultry seasoning
1/4 cup shortening
2/3 cup milk

In a large bowl, combine the flour and poultry seasoning. Add the shortening and with a pastry cutter mix in with the flour until you little pea sized crumbles.

Make a well and slowly add most of the milk and gently stir with a fork until blended into a wet dough. Add the remaining ounce or so of milk and stir. It's going to be a wet, sticky dough.

On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough for a minute or two until no longer sticky. Add a little more flour if you need to. Roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/8" inch. Carefully cut the dough into small squares and gently add them to the simmering broth.

Once you add the dumplings to the broth, DO NOT STIR them. The fragile dough will disintegrate. Let the broth cook the dumpling as you add the remaining squares. Very carefully jiggle the pot occasionally to bring the hot broth over the top of the dumplings.

Let the dumplings cook for 8 - 10 minutes or so and then carefully add the shredded chicken. Gently stir the dumplings into the pot of dumplings. Taste and salt and pepper. If you wish, you can use white pepper. I always use black pepper because I love to see the little specks of pepper goodness against the white of the dumplings

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Muscadine Jelly

Ah, muscadines.  It seems like most people in the South either have a love or hate relationship with muscadines. 

If you're not familiar with muscadines, here's a little background courtesy of Wikipedia:

Muscadine (Vitis rotundifolia) is a grapevine species native to the American South that has been extensively cultivated since the 16th century. Its natural range is recognized in the following states of the United States: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia. The plants are well adapted to their native warm and humid climate; they need fewer chilling hours than better known varieties and they thrive on summer heat.

Muscadine berries range from bronze to dark purple to black in color when ripe. However, many wild varieties stay green through maturity. They have skin sufficiently tough that eating the raw fruit often involves biting a small hole in the skin to suck out the pulp inside. Muscadines are not only eaten fresh, but also are used in making wine, juice, and jelly.
Muscadine grapes are rich sources of polyphenols and other nutrients studied for their potential health benefits. In a natural setting, muscadines are important plants for improving wildlife habitat by providing cover, browse, and fruit for a wide variety of animals

A friend graciously provided me a pint of his homemade muscadine jelly. This morning we had the lowest temp of the Fall season thus far at 28 degrees. It seemed a perfect morning for a cup of hot tea, a piping hot biscuit and delicious muscadine jelly.

4 cups prepared juice (buy about 3 lb. fully ripe fruit)
½ cup water
7 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
½ t. butter
1 pouch CERTO Fruit Pectin
BRING boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer.  Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water.  Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use.  Drain well before filling.
STEM and crush grapes thoroughly, one layer at a time.  Place in saucepan.  Add water.  Bring to boil.  Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Place three layers of damp cheesecloth or jelly bag in large bowl. Pour prepared fruit into cheesecloth.  Tie cheesecloth closed; hang and let drip into bowl until dripping stops.   Press gently. Measure exactly 4 cups juice into 6 - or 8-qt. saucepot.
STIR sugar into juice in saucepot.  Add butter to reduce foaming.  Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly.  Stir in pectin. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat.  Skim off any foam with metal spoon.
LADLE immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops.  Wipe jar rims and threads.  Cover with two-piece lids.  Screw bands tightly.  Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches.  Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil.  Process 5 minutes.  Remove jars and place upright on towel to cool completely.  After jars cool, check seals by pressing middle of lid with finger. (If lid springs back, lid is not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.)

Italian Sausage and Cheese Bites with Marinara Sauce

Almost everyone in the South has either eaten and/or cooked breakfast sausage "sausage balls" around the holidays. I decided to tweak the recipe slightly and use Italian sausage and a 5 Italian cheese blend and serve them with marinara sauce. I thought they needed a little more garlic perhaps or some red pepper flakes. Next time I make these, I will combine a pound of hot Italian sausage with the mild version and double the ingredients.

After baking, they can be frozen and will be ready to pop into a toaster oven to reheat after thawing. These are an excellent nibble food to have on hand during the football and holiday season for parties or drop in company.

Due to time constraints, I used bottled Prego marinara sauce. You  can certainly make your own!

1 pound ground Italian sausage
2 cups baking mix (such as Bisquick)
2 cups 5 cheese Italian blend, shredded
1/4 cup water

You can certainly mix the ingredients by hand, but I use the dough hook attachment on my Kitchenaid mixer. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine all ingredients and roll into 1 inch size balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet and bake for 18 - 20 minutes until cooked through and nicely browned. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Serve with warm marinara on the side.

Autumn & Hull Pottery = Perfect Birthday Meal Place Setting

I've recently become enamored with the Hull pottery of my childhood. Most people of my generation either remember these plates and serving pieces from their childhood or at the very least on their grandparents' table. I'm slowly adding to my collection. At the present time, I have my eye on a cookie jar!

Anyway, a dear childhood friend's birthday was this week and he requested chicken and dumplings for dinner. I decided to take a stroll down memory lane and incorporate newly acquired Hull "brown drip" plates and the lovely leaf shaped serving tray.

Halloween Table 2013

Here's a few pictures of the fun Halloween table I've set up for the kiddos in the family.  This table is a long, rectangular farmhouse type table with benches instead of chairs.  It's difficult for me to photograph properly at times, but I appreciate your patience as I continue to attempt the get the perfect shot!

Yesterday we made pumpkin cupcakes with vanilla icing and Halloween themed sprinkles.  The spider cup cake holders are from Avon.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Chicken Parmigiana with Tomato Sauce

Start to finish this meal was ready in an hour. YES, it can be a weeknight, after school, after work, dinner. By the time you stopped for take out or waited for delivery, you could have this meal on your table. Enjoy.

For the chicken:
1 1/2 - 2 pounds boneless/skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of all fat
1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper
2 T. olive oil
2 T. unsalted butter

Place chicken breasts, one at a time, between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Pound them until 1/4 inch thick using a meat mallet or rolling pin.

In a shallow plate or baking dish, mix flour salt and pepper together with a fork. Lightly dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture and place on a plate.

In a large skillet, over medium low heat, let the olive oil and butter heat until a drop of flour lightly sizzles. Place the chicken breasts, a few a time, into the skillet and let brown on both sides, about 3 - 4 minutes each. Remove to a place as they're browned and keep warm while you do the next batch.

For the sauce:
1 medium white onion, finely chopped
1 T. finely chopped garlic
1 cup sweet red wine
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. can tomato puree
1 6 oz. can tomato paste with basil, oregano and garlic
1 1/2 t. dried basil
1 1/2 t. dried oregano
1 1/2 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

After all the chicken is browned, turn the heat up slightly and add the onion and, stirring frequently, cook for about 2 - 3 minute until onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

At this point you should have lovely browned bits on the bottom of your skillet. Add the wine and scrape up all the browned bits on the bottom and let the wine reduce for about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and seasonings and stir to incorporate all the ingredients. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Let cook for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the chicken to the sauce and cover with about 1 cup of finely grated mozzarella and 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Cover again and let the chicken reheat in the sauce and the cheese melt.

Serve over your favorite spaghetti noodles and top with more grated Parmesan.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Asian Pulled Pork with Gravy served over Rice

Here's the Round II version of the Lettuce Wrap Crock Pot Pork.  Review the recipe for that dish if you haven't seen it from earlier in the week.

There was about 3 cups of shredded pork left over along with a little over a cup of sauce which I used to make a light gravy.  I put the sauce in a small Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Then in a small bowl, I mixed 1/4 cup cold water and 1 T. cornstarch until it was dissolved.  

When the sauce came to a boil, I whisked in the cornstarch mixture and let it thicken and then added the shredded pork and lowered the heat to low until it heated through.

Served over rice and with a drizzle of Sriracha hot sauce, it was an excellent Round II meal.

Asian Slaw with Roasted Garlic Rice Wine Vinaigrette

Round II dinner ideas continue.  I went into the fridge to "remake" the leftover ingredients from the Asian Lettuce Wraps.

2 cups Dole Asian Coleslaw Mix
2 green onions, white and some green parts (thinly sliced)
2 T. diced water chestnuts
1/4 cup matchstick cut cucumbers

1/8 cup canola oil
1 T. roasted garlic rice wine vinegar
1/2 t. hot Chinese mustard
two grinds of black pepper
dash or two of salt
1/4 t. sesame oil

Mix slaw and dressing together in a medium bowl.  Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fiesta Chili and Rice Casserole

And here is Round III of the gigantic pot of chili. And as a BONUS, remember those Chipotle Cracker Bites we made the other night? They're all crunched up as the topping for this casserole. And it was an excellent use of them.

If you still have leftover chili from the original recipe, I promise you can have this casserole on the table in about 40 minutes. Here's what you'll need for this casserole.

1 10 oz. bag of yellow rice, cooked according to package directions
About 3 - 4 cups of the chili, heated through
2 small cans of diced chilies
1 1/2 cups of shredded colby and cheddar cheese mix
1 cup of crushed chipotle crackers
2 T. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish. Spread the rice evenly in the bottom of the dish.

 Next add the chili.

Now the diced chilies:

And the cheese

Put the crackers in a ziplock bag and crush them up:

And put them on top of the cheese layer and spoon the butter over the cracker crumbs.

In about 12-14 minutes later, remove from oven. Isn't that pretty?


Fiesta Chili - Part II

Here we go with another use of the dreaded "leftovers." Instead of in a bowl topped with cracker bites, how about topping a grilled brat and fries?  Of course, you don't want to eat chili cheese fries on a regular basis, but as a special treat? Go for it!

Asian Pork Lettuce Wraps

Even though these wraps are usually served at restaurants with ground pork, I used a Boston Butt and the trusty crock pot to have this all cooked for me when I arrived home.  Within 30 minutes with a little chopping prep work for the veggies, we were ready to eat.

2 - 2 1/2 lb. bone in Boston Butt
Romaine or other leafy lettuce washed and dried
1/2 English cucumber, cut into matchsticks
1 bag Dole Asian Slaw Mix
1 small can diced water chestnuts
A small bunch green onions, white and some green, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds
Sesame oil
Sriracha Hot sauce

The night before cooking, place Boston Butt in a large bowl or gallon sized ziplock bag and pour in marinade.  Make sure pork is completely covered.

The next morning, turn crock pot onto low and place pork and marinade inside and cover.  Cook on low 8 - hours or on high 4 - 6 hours.  When the pork is completely cooked the bone will slide out easily and the meat will shred easily with two forks.

Ladle out some of the cooking liquid into a bowl and let the fat separate from the sauce.  Spoon off the fat and discard.  You can then use the remaining sauce in/on your wrap.

The toppings listed above are suggestions for a starting point for your favorites.  How about some chopped peanuts, bean sprouts, radishes?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

British Meat Pie

My friend from childhood made this delicious beef pie for her husband yesterday. She graciously gave me permission to post her picture and also to share her recipe.  So without further ado, here is Lisa Morton Mills' recipe as given to me in our own words.  Thank you Lisa!

My recipe was created from talking to my husband, looking online at British Meat pie and my mother in law, so here goes and realize it is my own creation:

1/2 of a large sweet onion
1 lb. cubed meat (recipe I found called for ground beef but I'd already been told that real British pie is made with small chunked beef)
6 small red potatoes chopped to thumb size
Chopped carrots
2 small stalks chopped celery
1 teaspoon crushed fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons of ketchup because I did not have something called "marmite"
1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon of thyme
A "shot" of Worcestershire

I browned the meat and onions and then put it on to boil about an hour before I wanted to make the sauce.

This allowed me to chop all the vegetables. They aren't supposed to be large like in a stew, but thumb size. I cooked this mixture in a two quart boiler not a Dutch oven, so that gives you an idea of the size the mixture makes.

I allowed it to cook down by half, then I added in all the veggies and set it to a low simmer.

Real British Pie uses something called marmite, which I didn't have.  It’s a brown gravy thickener, so I used a tablespoon of brown gravy powder but my sauce had already cooked down pretty thick.

I bought a premade pie crust because I never roll mine out far enough.  Poured into a corning casserole and baked at 400 degrees until golden brown....HUBBY loved it!  Very "Foyle's War"!

PS......red potatoes hold a better shape when cooked, so don't substitute those, and you can leave off the shot of Worcestershire.  We didn't taste it. But I was trying to copy marmite.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


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Monday, October 14, 2013

Fiesta Chili

I know. There are a million chili recipes. In fact, I think I have a dozen or more in my head at any given moment. Ground chuck, stew meat, beans, no beans? And the sacrilege of CORN added?!? Well, this was my version this week and we enjoyed it so I guess it rates a thumbs up!  

2 T. olive oil
2 medium white onions, chopped
2 pounds ground chuck
2 T. chopped garlic
1 - 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 - 14.5 oz. Rotel tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste (and that can filled with water)
1 - 14.5 oz can Fiesta corn, drained
1 can light red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chili beans
2 small cans diced green chilies
1 T. beef bouillon granules
2 T. chili powder

In a large Dutch oven over medium high heat, add olive oil and onions. Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 5 - 7 minutes. Add ground chuck and break up with a spoon. Cook until meat is all crumbly and browned. Drain well.  

Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to simmer and let cook for several hours.

Top with shredded cheese, sour cream, and/or chipotle cracker bites.

Chipotle Cracker Bites

I mixed up these little munchies to top bowls of steaming hot chili tonight. Ready in 20 minutes, they were perfect bites of crunchy, zippy goodness.

1 - 11 oz. box of Sunshine Oyster Crackers
1/4 cup vegetable or canola oil
1 1/2 T. Tones Chipotle Seasoning

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. In a large bowl, mix crackers, oil and seasoning. Spread in an even layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Some Fall Scenes from North Alabama

We drove up to Huntsville Saturday and I thought you might enjoy some pictures I took while we were on the road.  The leaves haven't reached their peak yet, but give them another week or so.

Rosie's Mexican Cantina

We dined at Rosie's Mexican Cantina in Huntsville Saturday afternoon.  The decor is fabulous, the music entertaining while not overpowering.  And the food?  Well, the food is delicious.

Here's some pics of the interior:

And now for the drinks and food!

Cuervo Gold Tequila and Cointreau blended with fresh lime juice and topped with Grand Marnier.  
The Cadillac of Margaritas!  $8.25

The chips were warm and fresh and the salsa was thick and chunky.  

Now on to our appetizer:  Deluxe Blanco -- Layers of spicy beef, queso blanco & pico de gallo
cup $6.25 | bowl $7.25

Perfect balance of heat and cheesy goodness.

My entree:  Taco Dinner
Spicy Beef or Chicken, soft or crispy tacos
Medium (2 tacos) $8.75 | Large (3 tacos) $9.75
Served with Mexican rice & refried beans

No soggy shell for these lovely tacos.  I loved them.  Beans and rice were typical Mexican restaurant sides, but still tasty.

Harold's choice:  El Grande Platter -- One Beef enchilada, one Cheese enchilada, one tamale & one chile relleno stuffed with Beef & cheese  $14.95.  No complaints from Harold for this meal.

The outside patio was simply delightful for this Fall afternoon.