Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

I hope each and every one of you have a most blessed Thanksgiving Day.  Much love from Lolly!

Pecan Pie Martini

This is the perfect cocktail for Thanksgiving or anytime during the Fall and Holiday Season. Very finely chop pecans and carefully rim the martini glass with a little honey. Gently rim the glass with the crushed pecans.

You'll need:

1 1/2 oz. Pinacle Pecan Pie Vodka
3 oz. amaretto

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka and amaretto. Put the top on the shaker and shake to blend well. Strain into your prepared martini glass. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Open Faced Turkey Burgers with Pan Gravy

I usually use ground turkey and shape my own burgers.  But at the grocery last weekend, I spied these Jennie-O turkey patties.  These were perfect for a "quick to the table" weeknight meal.  I decided to make some pan gravy and serve the burgers open faced on toasted buns.  No pan drippings from a freshly baked turkey shouldn't keep you from having a nice gravy for your burger!  I used chicken broth instead and by the time the burgers were cooked on a cast iron griddle pan (for those delightfully crunchy browned bits), the gravy was ready to ladle.

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 cups of chicken broth

In a medium sauce pan over low heat, melt butter and add flour and black pepper.  Whisk continuously for about 2 - 3 minutes.  

Slowly add the chicken broth and continue whisking over medium low heat until the gravy thickens.  Serve immediately.

Crunchy Sweet Potato Cubes with Seasoned Salt Blend

If you're tired of baked sweet potato fries, change things up a little bit with this version.  Wash and peel 2 large sweet potatoes.  Cube the sweet potatoes into 1/4" pieces.   

In a large skillet over high heat, heat about 2 T. canola oil.  When the oil shimmers, carefully add the potato cubes and reduce heat to medium high.  Let the cubes begin to brown and using a spatula carefully turn the potatoes several times during the cooking process to allow all the pieces to brown.

Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Sprinkle with the seasoned salt blend.  Serve immediately.

Seasoned Salt/Spice Blend for Vegetables, Burgers and More!

I had planned on turkey burgers and sweet potato fries last night for supper.  Sometimes SPF leave me disappointed.  I can never get the crisp texture I crave or the seasoning just so.  But last night, I kept mixing and stirring and adding and whisking and came up with a great topping to shake on those fries and the burgers.  Store in a spare salt shaker or cheese shaker.  You know the kind.  The ones they have at pizza joints with the red pepper flakes or fake Parmesan cheese? I had an extra one of those and it worked great.

In a small bowl, whisk together the following:

2 T. chili powder
2 T. granulated garlic
2 T. ground cumin
2 T. sea salt
1 T. ground black pepper
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (or more to your taste)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Frito Chili Pie (Extreme Version!)

Frito Chili Pie has been a mainstay at Chez Lolly for years.  I continue to be surprised by the number of people who have never enjoyed this plate of comforting goodness.  This is yet another Round Two meal using our chili sauce we prepared a few nights ago for the stuffed banana peppers.  

You can certainly open a can of your favorite chili (with beans or without).  But when you've cooked a great pot of chili this is a great way to serve it a few nights later.  

Fritos corn chips - you can use the original version, chili cheese flavor (for that extra pop) or scoops
Shredded Cheese
Thinly sliced green onions
Sour Cream
Chopped Cilantro

Layer it on a plate and enjoy!  

Other toppings could include:  chopped tomatoes, cubed avocados, black olives

But sometimes simple is better.  

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Cheese and Bacon Sandwiches

This is Lolly's version of a BLT.  I know, there's no lettuce.  And there's no tomato.  So this is Lolly's version of a Bacon and Cheese Sandwich!  

Fry as many slices of bacon as you'd like and drain
Use whatever type of bread you like:  wheat, whole grain, Italian, French, Sourdough.....
A MUST is individually wrapped slices of American Cheese
A little mayo
LOTS of freshly ground black pepper

Turn the oven boiler to high.  Place bread on baking sheet and put one slice of cheese on one slice of the bread.

Place under broiler until the cheese is all ooey and gooey and the other slice of bread is nicely toasted.

Remove from the oven and IMMEDIATELY nestle your bacon slices down into the ooey gooey cheese slice.  Grind the black pepper over the bacon and cheese.  Spread mayonnaise on other slice of bread and place on top of bacon/cheese bread.


Two Cheese Stuffed Banana Peppers with Chipotle Chili Sauce served over Rice

Yes, I agree there's a lot happening on this plate.  But it's such a great blend of flavors, please don't be overwhelmed thinking that's too much assemble.  The bottom layer of rice is a store bought package of yellow Mexican seasoned rice that cooks in about 20 minutes.  So nothing much to worry about there.

The banana peppers are a cinch to make.  It will take a little bit of time to brown the ground chuck and vegetables for the chili sauce, but it's well worth the 30 minutes or so prep time.

Let's make the chipotle chili sauce first:  (And yes, we will have a Round Two meal from the leftovers!)

2 pounds ground chuck
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
1 jar Tostitos Chipotle Salsa
8 oz. can of tomato sauce
1 can of Del Monte Petite Cut Chipotle Chilie Tomatoes
11 oz. white shoe peg corn, drained
15 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained

In a large skillet or Dutch oven, brown ground chuck with onion and bell peppers. When meat is browned and vegetables are softened, drain and then add garlic. Let cook for 1 - 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients.  Bring to a boil and then cover and reduce heat to low.  Let chili sauce simmer for 20 - 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

While the chili sauce cooks, let's stuff the banana peppers.  I used the last picking of peppers from the garden.  Feel free to use poblanos or jalapenos.  

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, heat 1 T. olive oil.  Cut off the stem end of the peppers and carefully remove as much of the membrane and seeds as you can.  Place the peppers in the warm oil and using tongs to turn them over, let them cook until softened, about 8 - 10 minutes.  If the peppers begin to brown too much, reduce heat lower.  Remove from heat and let cool until they're cool enough to handle.

While the pepper are cooling, prepare the cheese filling:
6 oz. of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar or Mexican blend cheese
1/4 t. granulated garlic
dash of salt

Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl.  This was the perfect amount to stuff 10 medium sized banana peppers.  If you have more or less peppers, you'll need to adjust the amount of cheese you use.

Remove the chili sauce from the heat and carefully pour into a greased 9 x 13 baking dish.  Carefully spoon the cheese mixture into each pepper and place on top of chili sauce.  Bake for 35 - 40 minutes at 325 degrees.  

Serve over rice and top with chopped cilantro and/or sour cream.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Spicy Southwestern Style Slaw

This is a spicy (make it to your heat level), colorful coleslaw that is oil/vinegar based.  I know there are those who prefer this type to mayonnaise based slaws.
Aren't the colors just beautiful?  I used all purple cabbage, but of course, you can use a mixture of purple/green cabbage or all green.
For the dressing:
1/3 cup canola oil
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 t. ground cumin
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 t. kosher salt
Few grinds of black pepper
Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl.  Taste and add more vinegar or oil to suit your taste.
For the slaw:
3 cups shredded cabbage
1 cup shredded or matchstick cut carrots
3 green onions, white and some green, thinly sliced
1 jalapeno, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1 Serrano, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
In a large bowl, using tongs, mix the above listed ingredients.  Slowly pour dressing over slaw, tossing to coat.  You may not use all the dressing.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Salad Po'Boy

Most people like Buffalo Wings. A lot of people like the buffalo chicken dip that made the rounds for years at tailgating parties, office gatherings and pot lucks. 

I had some leftover smoked chicken and decided to make Lolly's version of buffalo chicken salad. Oh yes. Thumbs up all around.

3 cups cooked, cubed chicken
2 ribs celery, trimmed and diced
1 shallot, diced
2 boiled eggs, chopped small
1/2 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup your favorite wing sauce
few grinds of black pepper
crumbled blue cheese

Combine the chicken, celery, shallot and boiled eggs in a medium bowl. 

In a smaller bowl, whisk together ranch dressing, wing sauce and pepper.

Gently fold the dressing into the chicken mixture. Top with crumbled blue cheese.

Serve on toasted bread, crackers or like me....eat it straight from the bowl while no one is looking.

Southern Pecan Pound Cake

My daughter found this recipe on www.thebakingpan.com and asked me to bake it for her ASAP. This pound cake reminds me of those I grew up with years ago. Nice and crumbly and dense. The Fall season is the perfect time to incorporate pecans into as many desserts as you possibly can. The sour cream adds just the lightest touch of "zing" to this cake. 

cup pecan halves
1 T. all-purpose flour
2¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 t. baking powder
¼ t. salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1⅓ cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
2 t. pure vanilla extract
¼ cup sour cream

¼ cup pecan halves
1 T. granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

Prepare one 10 inch Angel Food cake pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening and dust with flour.

Batter:  By hand, break the pecans for both the batter and the topping into ¼ inch pieces.  Toast nuts, cool, and then toss with 1 tablespoon flour.  Set aside.  

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Tip:  To cream, start by placing the butter in the bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed begin by beating the butter about 1 minute until it is smooth and light in color.  With the mixer still on medium speed, slowly add the sugar to the butter, either one tablespoon at a time, or in a very slow steady stream, taking from 4 to 8 minutes to add all of the sugar, and beating until the butter and sugar are fully incorporated and the mixture is a light, or pale yellow color, with a fluffy texture.

While adding the sugar, stop the mixer occasionally to scrape the mixture off the paddle and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula so the mixture blends evenly.

Add eggs one at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed.  Add the vanilla along with the last egg.

Tip: For each egg, crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk with a fork to thoroughly break up the egg before adding to the creamed mixture.  Start with the mixer on low speed so the liquid from the egg doesn’t splatter, once the egg is partially mixed increase the speed to medium.  Each egg should be fully incorporated into the mixture before adding the next egg, taking about one minute to blend in each egg.

With the mixer on low speed, add about ½ of the flour mixture, mix just until the flour is almost completely blended.  Scrape the bowl down, and add the sour cream, blending just until mixed.

Scrape the bowl down again and then add the remaining ½ flour mixture, mix just until blended, scraping down the side of the bowl as needed.  

Using a large rubber spatula, gently fold 1 cup toasted pecans into the batter.  Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the surface with the back of a large spoon.

Topping: Sprinkle ¼ cup toasted pecans over the top of the batter, and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Bake:  Bake 55 to 65 minutes or until a long toothpick, wooden skewer, or cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place pan on a wire cooling rack to cool for 10 to 15 minutes then remove cake from the pan and place the cake on the wire cooling rack to finish cooling.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Eggs Benedict with blender Hollandaise Sauce

Y'all know how I love to cook special weekend breakfasts.  And I return time and again to Eggs Benedict.

Please don't be intimated by your preconceived ideas that this is a difficult dish to prepare.

Take it mentally step by step.  1) toast an English muffin; 2) warm a slice of Canadian bacon; 3) poach an egg** in simmering water for 3 1/2 minutes, drain; 4) get out the blender and add a few ingredients and 5 minutes later you have Hollandaise sauce.

See?  Easy Smeasy.

Thanks to Ina Garten for her blender Hollandaise sauce.  It makes 4 (1/3 cup) servings.  It doubles beautifully, by the way.

1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 t. freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch of cayenne pepper
4 T. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 t. kosher salt
Put the egg yolk, lemon juice, and cayenne in a blender.  Pulse a couple times to combine.

Put the butter in a small microwave safe bowl and melt in a microwave until just melted.  With the blender running, gradually add the melted butter into the egg to make a smooth frothy sauce.  If the sauce is very thick, blend in a teaspoon of lukewarm water loosen it up.

Season with the salt and serve immediately or keep warm in a small heat-proof bowl set over hot (but not simmering) water until ready to serve.

***To poach the eggs, bring a small saucepan 2/3 filled with water to a gently simmer.  Add 1 T. white vinegar.  Break 1 egg into a small ramekin or bowl.  With a spoon, gently stir the water and when you have it swirling, very carefully let the egg slip into the "whirlpool."  The white of the egg will form around the yolk.  Let the egg poach for 3 minutes and remove from its water bath and let it drain on a paper towel.  Repeat with the remaining eggs.

Potato Salad with Garlic Mayonnaise

This recipe from Ronnie Foreman of Lafayette, Louisiana advises to please make this to eat alongside your turkey and Andouille sausage gumbo.  I followed his advice and was certainly glad that I did.  It was delicious as a side dish to the gumbo.

Makes 8 - 10 servings
4 pounds small boiling potatoes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 t. salt
 3 1/2 T. fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup mayonnaise, or more to taste
1/2 t. Creole mustard
1/3 cup chopped green onions (green parts only)
black pepper

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until just tender.  Drain and cool.

Mash the garlic with the salt in a small bowl to make a paste.  In a large bowl, combine the garlic paste, lemon juice, mayonnaise, and Creole mustard, whisking to blend well.

When the potatoes are cool, peel and cut in half.  Add the potatoes and the green onions to the mayonnaise mixture and toss to coat evenly. 

Season with additional salt (if needed) and freshly ground black pepper. 

Turkey and Andouille Sausage Gumbo

I can honestly say this was the best gumbo I have ever made. The addition of the homemade stock made a huge difference. But if time constraints dictate your using store bought chicken stock in it's place, you'll still love this gumbo.

3/4 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1 cup chopped green bell peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 t. salt
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 pound smoked Andouille sausage, chopped
1 recipe turkey stock (recipe immediately posted prior to this one) or about 2 quarts stock
1 1/2 lbs. cooked turkey meat (chopped, plus any reserved meat from the carcass in the stock)
2 T. chopped fresh parsley
2 T. chopped green onions (green parts only)
Hot cooked rice for serving

In a large cast iron pot or enameled cast iron Dutch oven over medium heat, combine the oil and flour.

Stirring or whisking constantly and slowly for 20 to 25 minutes, make a dark brown roux, the color of chocolate.

Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, salt and cayenne. 

Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the sausage and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 45 minutes.

Add the turkey meat and cook for 15 minutes. Add the parsley and green onions.  Serve in a soup bowl with steamed rice and accompany with potato salad.

From Ronnie Foreman, Lafayette, Louisiana

Turkey Stock

After last week's smoking of two turkey breasts, it's time to get the carcasses out of the freezer and make some stock.  You may ask if going to all the time to make homemade stock makes that much of a difference.  Yes.  It does.  If you don't have time to make the stock the day after Thanksgiving, PLEASE, put the turkey bones in a freezer bag and freeze until you have a morning or afternoon.  It only has to simmer a few hours and the taste of your soup, stew or gumbo will be immeasurably better.  I promise.

This recipe will make about two quarts of stock which you will use in the turkey and Andouille sausage gumbo recipe. 

1 turkey carcass (or two turkey breasts carcasses)
3 stalks celery, cut into 4 inch pieces
2 medium onions, quartered
4 - 6 quarts of water (enough to cover the bones)
2 t. salt
1 T. whole black peppercorns
4 bay leaves

Put the turkey bones into a large stockpot.  I used my 9 1/2 quart LeCreuset Dutch oven. 

Add the celery, onions, water, salt, peppercorns and bay leaves.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, for two hours. 

Remove from the heat.

Skim off any fat that has risen to the surface.  Strain the broth through a fine meshed sieve.  Reserve any meat that has fallen off the bones and pick off any meat that still remain on the carcass to add to the gumbo. 

From Ronnie Foreman, Lafayette, Louisiana.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Pumpkin Bundt Cake

No recipe for this one.  But you will LOVE me for giving you this heads up. If you're pressed for time and need a shortcut to help you during the busy holiday season, please considering purchasing the Libby's Pumpkin Bread Kit.

You can bake muffins, mini-muffins, loaves, mini-loaves or a bundt cake. Simple directions are on the box and it only takes minutes to mix together. About an hour later (for the cake, less time for muffins of course), it's baked, your kitchen smells lovely and your family and friends will be impressed!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chicken and Cornbread Dressing

I changed my tried and true dressing recipe a little this year.  I didn't make quite as much as normal for one thing.  For another I stayed more of a purist with mostly cornbread and a few slices of stale white bread added. 

A day or two before making the dressing, you'll need to bake at least two cast iron skillets of cornbread.  Remove them from the oven, let them cool and then crumble into pieces.  Let them air dry on a baking sheet overnight.

You'll also need to cook the chicken:
1 stewing hen (or 4 chicken breasts, bone-in)
2 quarts chicken stock

In a large Dutch oven, add the chicken and the chicken stock.  Slowly bring stock to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Skim off any scum that forms on top of the stock.  Let chicken cook until it is falling off the bone tender.  Remove chicken from stock and let cool enough until you can shred meat.  Set aside.  Strain chicken stock and reserve until you're ready to mix up the dressing.

Cornbread crumbles
6 - 8 slices of white bread, torn into pieces and either dried in a warm oven or overnight with the cornbread
1/2 stick butter
2 large yellow onions, chopped
4 ribs celery, chopped
black pepper
1 t. poultry seasoning
1 t. dried sage
4 eggs, lightly beaten

In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and add onions and celery and sautĂ© until vegetables are translucent.  Remove from heat.

In a VERY large bowl, add crumbled cornbread and white bread.  Add the onions and celery and stir to combine.

Slowly ladle in chicken stock a few ladles at a time and stir to soften the bread.  Continue until the bread is thoroughly moistened.  You may or may not use all the chicken stock.  Add salt and pepper to taste along with the poultry seasoning and sage.

Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.  You may need a little extra sage or seasoning to get it just right for you.

Add the beaten eggs and stir to combine.  Gently add the shredded chicken.

Spoon into a large baking pan(s) and cover with foil.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes, give or take 10 minutes or so.  The baking time will depend on the size of the baking dish you have chosen.

When the dressing appears dry on top, you're done. 

Creamy Stove Top Macaroni & Cheese

Sometimes, I make mac and cheese with a roux and bake it in the oven. Sometimes, I add ham or bacon.  But for this meal, with oven space at a premium, I needed an easy, stove top creamy macaroni and cheese.  Leftovers heated beautifully in the microwave for at-work lunches this week.  Simply add a little milk or cream before reheating.

1 pound elbow pasta, cooked according to package direction and drained
1 1/2 cup whole milk
2 T. all purpose flour
3 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. granulated garlic

Warm 1 cup of the milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and the flour until there are no lumps.

When you see small tendrils of steam rising from the warming milk, whisk in the milk and flour mixture.  Continue whisking gently until the milk thickens slightly the consistency of heavy cream.  This will take 3 - 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and begin to add the shredded cheese 1/4 cup at a time to the milk mixture.  Stir until all the cheese has been added and melted and the sauce is creamy.  Stir in the salt and granulated garlic.  Remove the sauce from the heat.

In a large serving bowl, combine the macaroni and 1/2 of the cheese sauce.  Stir to coat the pasta evenly.  Add the remaining sauce and stir to combine.

Serve immediately.

Adapted from Cooking Lessons From The Kitchen.

Field Peas with Andouille Sausage

Field peas are ALWAYS on the family holiday meal menu.  I cook them with either bacon or a ham hock.  But this year I had some Andouille sausage and a plethora of banana peppers.  Why not take common field peas to an entirely new level?  They were a hit!
1 pound Mississippi Silver Hull peas
2 T. olive oil
1/2 pound Andouille sausage, diced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3 medium sized banana peppers, chopped
2 T. garlic
1 bay leaf
6 cups chicken stock
In a large Dutch oven, over medium high heat, add olive oil, sausage, onion and peppers.  Cook, stirring frequently, until sausage is nicely browned.  Add garlic and stirring constantly, let garlic cook for 1 minute. 
Add bay leaf, chicken stock and peas.
Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and let peas cook until tender, 1 - 1 1/2 hours. 
The sausage should add enough salt to season the peas properly.  Taste before serving because you may need to add a little additional salt. 
Keep a close watch on the peas and add additional chicken stock or water while they're cooking.

Roasted Root Vegetables

In my opinion, the best way to enjoy vegetables is to roast them. Simply chopped, drizzled with a little olive oil, sprinkled with some salt and pepper and into the oven.  What could be easier?

For my version, I used the following root vegetables, chopped into as close to the same shape size as possible:

3 large multi colored carrots
1 sweet potato
3 multi colored fingerling potatoes
2 small turnips
3 small beets
3 parsnips
a bulb of garlic, papery skins removed
4 cippolini onions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, add chopped vegetables, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste. Spread evenly on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast in oven 15 - 18 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Two Cheese Squash Casserole

I started out with a 4 medium yellow squash and a little cheese and decided I would forgo my regular squash casserole recipe and make a new one.  I will use this version in the future.  I loved this.
4 - 6 medium squash, ends trimmed, quartered and then thinly sliced
3 T. unsalted butter
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
1 T. minced garlic
1 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1 1/4 cup finely shredded mild Cheddar cheese, divided
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley
8 oz. sour cream
1 t. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter and add squash, onion and garlic.  Saute' for 5 - 7 minutes until tender.  Remove from heat.  In a large bowl, spoon the squash mixture.  Add 1 cup Parmesan, 1 cup Cheddar and remaining ingredients.  Spoon into a lightly greased medium sized casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 35- 40 minutes.  Remove from oven and add remaining Parmesan and Cheddar and return to oven until nicely browned and bubbly.

Kale with Smoked Gruyere

Yes my love affair with Kale the Super Food continues.  I simply could not have a Thanksgiving meal without kale being on the menu.
Put kale together with Gruyere cheese and you know Lolly was a happy lady.
4 - 6 cups of kale (washed and stems removed)
2 - 3 cups chicken stock
2 T. minced garlic
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1 T. red wine vinegar
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese
In a medium sized pot add first four ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, cover and let cook, stirring occasionally for 30 - 45 minutes until kale is tender.  Add the red wine vinegar and stir to mix well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a 9 x 11 baking dish and gently spoon in kale mixture.  Top with shredded cheese and let bake until cheese is melted and bubbling.

Corn Pudding

I almost always serve creamed (or fried corn) at the holiday times. But this year we decided to try a more traditional corn pudding instead.  This is a classic recipe which has a rich, almost soufflĂ© like texture.  As you can see this makes a LOT.  But the leftovers are wonderful.
6 cups of corn kernels (either frozen or cut from 12 - 13 ears of fresh corn)
1/4 cup sugar
3 T. all purpose flour
2 t. baking powder
1 1/2 t. salt
6 large eggs
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place corn kernels in large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine sugar and next three ingredients.
Whisk together eggs, whipping cream and butter in another large bowl. Gradually add the sugar mixture to egg mixture; whisking until smooth. Gently stir in corn. 
Pour mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 baking dish.
Bake at 350 degrees for 40 - 45 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.
From Southern Living December 2010

Roasted Asparagus with Slivered Almonds

I know.  We all think of asparagus as a Spring time vegetable.  But I had a special request for roasted asparagus from my pregnant daughter in law, so what was I to do?
Am I the only one who hears Bugs Bunny saying As-Pa-Rag-Us every time you see this word?  I am?  Yes, you're probably right. 
3 pounds fresh asparagus
2 T. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted (place almonds in a dry skillet over low heat; toss occasionally; when you smell them, they're done!)
Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus.  Place asparagus on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Drizzle evenly with olive oil; sprinkle evenly with garlic, salt and pepper.
Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or so until desired doneness.  Transfer asparagus to a serving dish and sprinkle with the toasted almonds.

From Southern Living March 2005

Cranberry Salsa

I always make cranberry sauce from whole berries for Thanksgiving. Sometimes I add nuts, sometimes a tablespoon or so of orange juice, occasionally cinnamon.  But this year, I thought more about the leftover turkey sandwiches and what I would like to have as an accompaniment to those delicious bites of yumminess......where was I?  Oh yes, the cranberries.

Anytime I drift off in daydream land regarding leftover turkey sandwiches, my mind does wander.

This is DEFINITELY not your "grandmother's cranberry sauce from a can with the rings still visible when it's plopped out onto a plate" variety.

Make it a day or two before your meal to let the flavors meld together. You're welcome. No really, you'll thank me.

1 - 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
1 T. orange zest
1 navel orange, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 cup sugar
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and coarsely chopped
3 T. coarsely chopped crystallized ginger
2 T. chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Pulse cranberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.

Pulse orange zest and next five ingredients in food processor 3 to 5 times or until orange, ginger and pepper are finely chopped. Stir in cranberries. Cover and chill 24 hours.

From Southern Living November 2011

Quick Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Lemon and Parmesan

If the only Brussels sprouts you've ever had were limp and soggy steamed examples, please shake that memory from your mind and roast some.  Roasting makes all vegetables crunchy, delicious and give a flavor that can't be obtained any other way.

The lemon juice and Parmesan amounts are simply a starting point.  Use more or less for your taste.
1 pound Brussels sprouts
3 T. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 t. salt
several grinds of black pepper
1 T. fresh lemon juice (I used the juice from 1/2 LARGE lemon)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
** if you'd like to fancy it up some, add 1 T. Dijon mustard mixed with 1/2 t. Worcestershire sauce whisked together

Heat oven to 475 degrees.
Remove any yellow or tough outer leaves on sprouts, then trim the core ends and halve lengthwise.

In a large bowl, toss the sprouts with the olive oil, salt and pepper until thoroughly coated.  If you're going with the fancy version, here's where you'll add in the mustard/Worcestershire.

Arrange the sprouts cut side down and evenly spaced on a heavy duty baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Roast until tender and browned, about 12 - 15 minutes, depending on your oven and the size of the sprouts. 

When done to your liking, drizzle lemon juice over the top and sprinkle with cheese. 

Braised Mustard Greens with Red Onions and Garlic

I think everyone has a tendency to overload on carbs during Thanksgiving. Luckily for us, the garden is producing some lovely greens already this Fall.

Mustard greens have a milder flavor than collards or turnip greens and this was a tasty side dish. I served some pepper sauce on the side and that helped to jazz things up a bit.

2 T. olive oil
1 large bunch mustard greens, washed and the stem removed
1 large red onion chopped
1 - 2 T. chopped garlic
2 cups chicken stock

In a medium sauce pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute' onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant.  

Add the greens a few handfuls at a time. They will wilt quickly and it will make it easier to add them to pot. When wilted, add chicken stock and lower heat to simmer. Cover and let cook for an hour or so until tender. Taste for seasonings and add salt and black pepper if you'd like. If the chicken stock is NOT low sodium, you may not need any additional salt.  

Thanksgiving Tables

Thanksgiving came early for our family this year.  Due to distance and work schedules we celebrated a few weeks before the calendar tells us we're supposed to.  But it t was a wonderful weekend spent with children and grandchildren.

Here's the dining room table decked out with a leaf theme and bright seasonal Fiestaware colored plates and glasses.

The kitchen dining table was set with vintage Hull plates and King's Crown Amber glasses.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Provino's - Rome, Georgia

Saturday night we dined at Provino's Italian Restaurant in Rome, Georgia.  Come hungry.  Forget those skimpy breadsticks at Olive Garden.  The same goes for that "endless salad bowl."  Provino's has them beaten on both counts.

Dark, cozy and inviting are the first impressions you'll have when you enter Provino's.  We scored a two top booth and it was perfect.  Our server, John, was attentive and helpful, but not overpowering with his presence.  It was very refreshing to be asked if we'd like a glass of wine instead of the Olive Garden method of shoving a bottle into your face the second you are seated.

We started with some lovely sliced zucchini fried  to perfection and served with a steaming bowl of marinara sauce.  $6.25

Here's Provino's version of the family styled salad which includes LOTS of garlic, pickled beets, chickpeas, tomato wedges, cucumbers, cheese and the perfect amount of their homemade oil/vinegar dressing.

Oh, and then came the rolls.....super hot, buttered and garlic to the max!  

Harold chose the Red Snapper Francese, egg dipped, sauteed golden in lemon butter wine sauce served with a side of spaghetti.  $15.95

And I chose Fettuccine Daniello:  Carbonara with pancetta, green peas in Alfredo sauce.  $12.95

All of this glorious food and two glasses of Pinot Grigio for $44.00.  It was a wonderful meal and if you're ever passing through Rome, please bypass Olive Garden and give Provino's a try!