Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Oktoberfest Smoked Chicken

Well Fleur de Lolly followers and friends, I got so caught up in the Oktoberfest Celebration I neglected to take pictures of the "before" chickens.  Sweet Harold spatchcocked the chickens (which simply means removing their backbone and flattening out so they cook evenly) and I mixed up a spice/herb rub that was amazing.  

And then, yes, I forgot to take a picture of them ON the smoker.....and yes, then I forgot to take a picture of them OFF the smoker before he cut them into serving pieces.  So, guess what?  You'll get a step by step walk through demonstration of that process soon.  You have my apologies.

I used two small 6 pound hens.  They were organic, free range, no steroids, no antibiotics, no nothing. They were SO natural, I fully expected them to be holding wings singing Kumbaya when we opened the smoker.  I hope you laughed. 

As I said, we put these on the smoker at 225 degrees and added 3 bottles of Oktoberfest beer and 1 bottle Pumpkin flavored beer into the water bowl.  The steam/smoke created by the smoker imparted all these delicious flavors into the birds.

Here's the rub recipe:

Mix the following together in a small bowl:
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1/8 cup sweet paprika
1 T. salt
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground fennel seeds
1/2 t. dried marjoram
1/2 t. dried thyme

That just smells good reading it, doesn't it?

You can use this seasoning blend on the chicken whether you choose to smoke, grill, roast or bake the chicken.  It added amazing flavor to the chicken.

Rinse the chickens and pat dry with paper towels.  Pour a small amount of olive oil over the chickens and rub both sides until fully coated.  Very gently, loosen the skin from the chicken breasts and thighs and very carefully begin to place the rub directly on the meat.  Repeat until both chickens have the seasoning blend placed under the skin.  Sprinkle/rub remaining seasoning on front and back of the chickens.

Place the chickens on the smoker at 225 degrees and let smoke for approximately 3 - 3 1/2 hours until internal temperature reaches 180 degrees.  Remove from smoker, cover with foil and let rest 15 minutes or so and then cut into serving pieces.  

The chicken was tender, moist and SO flavorful.

Black Forest Pound Cake with Cherry Sauce

I dearly love pound cakes. And what better dessert for an Oktoberfest meal than a Black Forest Pound Cake with Cherry Sauce? As is the norm for pound cakes, this one is dense and a tad dry so be sure you make the whipped cream and cherry sauce to go on top.  

2/3 cup butter, softened 
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar 
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
4 large eggs 
1 ¼ t. vanilla extract, divided
1 ½ cups cake flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
½ t. salt
¼ t. baking soda
3/4 cup sour cream 
3 (1-oz.) bittersweet chocolate baking squares, finely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°. Beat butter at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 1/3 cups granulated sugar and 2/3 cup brown sugar, beating until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes). Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition. Beat in 1 tsp. vanilla.

Whisk together flour and next 3 ingredients. Add to butter mixture alternately with sour cream, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed just until blended after each addition. Stir in chopped chocolate.

Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch round cake pan (with sides that are 3 inches high).

Bake at 325° for 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan to wire rack; cool completely (about 1 hour).

Meanwhile, prepare Cherry Sauce. Place cake on a serving plate or cake stand.

Slowly pour Cherry Sauce over cake. Beat 1 ¼ cup heavy cream, 1 T. granulated sugar, and 1/4 t. vanilla at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Dollop whipped cream onto cake, and sprinkle with shaved chocolate.

Cherry Sauce
2 (12-oz.) packages frozen cherries
1/3 cup sugar 
1/3 cup cold water 
2 t. cornstarch
2 T. brandy
½ t. vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Stir together cherries, sugar, cold water, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, 12 to 15 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat, and stir in Kirsch or brandy, vanilla, and salt. Cool completely (about 1 hour).

From Southern Living October 2012

Monday, September 29, 2014

Tart Apple and Cabbage Toss

I made this with our Oktoberfest meal.  It was a great addition to the smoked chicken and lentil and potato salad.  The original recipe called for thinly sliced apples, but I liked the smaller diced version in mine.

1 - 1 1/2 t. caraway seeds
1/2 - 1 t. fennel seeds
1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 t. sugar
8 cups finely shredded purple cabbage (1 medium head)
1 cup matchstick carrots
2 Granny Smith apples, thinly sliced or diced
1/3 cup chopped fresh chives

Place caraway and fennel seeds in a mortar bowl or spice grinder; grind using a pestle or grinder until seeds became a medium powder.  Combine pepper, vinegar and crushed seeds in a small bowl and cover.  Let stand 1 hour.  Whisk in mayonnaise and sugar.  Season with salt to taste.

Combine cabbage and next 3 ingredients in a large bowl.  Add vinegar mixture and toss until blended.  Let stand  10 minutes to 1 hour before serving.

From Southern Living October 2012

Warm Lentil and Potato Salad

This was my salad portion of the Oktoberfest meal.  I had never cooked with green lentils before and they are now my most favorite legume.  Green lentils remain firm after cooking, unlike brown lentils, and hold up nicely in this salad.

1/2 cup dried French green lentils
28 oz. small red potatoes, halved or quartered, depending on their size
5 bacon slices
3 T. olive oil
2 large shallots, finely chopped
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves
2 - 3 T. red wine vinegar
2 t. whole grain Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups loosely packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves

Bring lentils and 4 cups salted water to a boil in a heavy 2 quart saucepan over medium high heat.  Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 - 25 minutes or just until tender.

Meanwhile, cook potatoes in boiling salted water to cover for 15 minutes or just until tender.  Drain lentils and potatoes.

Cook bacon in a large, deep nonstick skillet over medium heat 6 - 7 minutes or until crisp.  Remove bacon and drain on paper towels.  Crumble bacon when cool enough to handle.  Reserve 2 T. drippings in the skillet.

Add olive oil to hot drippings in the skillet and heat over medium heat. Saute shallots, celery and garlic in hot olive oil mixture for 3 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar and mustard.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Gently stir in lentils, potatoes, bacon and parsley.

From Southern Living October 2012

Mediterranean Mondays - Mediterranean White Bean & Shrimp Stew

We're continuing our Mediterranean Mondays theme.  Fall is in the air and this is such a comforting AND healthy stew.  It could easily be adapted for the crock pot by adding the shrimp during the last 15 minutes or so of cooking.  You can either use store bought sun dried tomatoes or if you have a little time follow my recipe here to make your own roasted Roma tomatoes.  I removed 3/4 cup of my frozen roasted Romas and added enough olive oil to cover them for about an hour.  You can then use THAT oil to begin this recipe.  Was that confusing enough?  :)  Allow enough time to soak the beans either overnight or for a few hours before beginning to cook the stew.

3 cups small white beans (picked over and sorted through)
3 T. olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1/2 - 3/4 cup sun dried tomatoes or roasted Roma tomatoes
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1/2 T. finely chopped rosemary
1 t. dried oregano
1 1/2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 t. McCormick Mediterranean Seasoning Blend
a few grinds of black pepper
1 T. finely chopped basil

Soak the beans overnight in enough water to cover by 2 inches.  Drain.  Set aside.

Add olive oil over medium heat in a 5 quart Dutch oven.  Add onions and, stirring occasionally, let cook until softened, about 5 - 7 minutes.  Add tomatoes and garlic and let them begin to caramelize slightly.  This will add a great richness to the tomatoes if you let them cook for a few minutes before adding liquid.

Add the beans to the pot along with the chicken stock, bay leaf, rosemary and oregano.  Lower the heat to low and cover pot about halfway.  Check the stew every 30 minutes or so and stir.  You may need to add a little more chicken stock if liquid begins to cook away too fast before beans are able to cook through.

After a few hours the beans should be soft enough to take the back of your spoon and press some against the side of your Dutch oven.  This will allow the beans themselves to help thicken the stew.  

When the beans are soft and completely cooked, add the prepared shrimp.  As soon as the shrimp turn pink and opaque, they are done.  Taste and add the Mediterranean seasoning blend and pepper to taste.  

Remove the bay leaf before serving.  Add basil to each individual bowl with a drizzle of olive oil on top if you'd like.  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oktoberfest Stew

When you think of Oktoberfest what do you think of? Beer? Sausages? Cabbage? Potatoes? Well, what happens when you combine all of those delicious food groups in a pot and let it simmer all afternoon? Oktoberfest Stew! I serve these bowls of super rich goodness with Pepperidge Farm Rye and Pumpernickle Swirl Bread,

Let's get the stew simmering!

1 T. olive oil
1 (16 oz.) package beef smoked sausage or your favorite brats, cut into bite sized pieces
2 medium yellow onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 cups thinly sliced green cabbage
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. ground caraway seeds
1/4 t. ground fennel seeds
1/4 t. salt
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bottle Oktoberfest style beer
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cubed into bite sized pieces
3 cups beef stock
1/2 t. ground cinnamon
1 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. flat leaf parsley chopped (for garnishing)

Place a 5 qt. Dutch oven over medium high heat and add olive oil. Add the sausages or brats and cook, stirring frequently until meat has browned.

Add onions and let them begin to caramelize along with the sausage. It will take 5 - 7 minutes. Continue stirring frequently.

Now add in the cabbage and let it begin to soften with the onions. The cabbage will begin to take on the golden color of the onions and sausage. Add the black pepper, caraway and fennel seeds and the salt and stir to combine.  Now it's the garlic's turn to be added to the mix. Stir to combine and let this mixture cook for a few minutes.

Add in the beer and let it reduce for about 5 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, beef stock and cinnamon. Let it reach a gentle boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for about an hour.

Just before serving stir in the apple cider vinegar and once you ladle into your serving bowls, top with a little of the chopped parsley for garnish.

Oktoberfest 2014 Appetizers

Here's a picture of the Oktoberfest Appetizer table.   We started out with Bavarian Blue and Butterkäse Cheese with assorted crackers, Bavarian sauerkraut, freshly baked soft pretzels with choice of German mustards, grilled Nuremberg Bratwursts and Cherry Glazed Brats.

Butterkäse is a semi-soft cheese with a golden natural rind, very popular in Germany and Austria for its creamy texture, buttery like taste. Its name, when literally translated means "butter cheese," but the cheese is butter free. However, the appealing flavor and appearance makes it a great hit on a cheeseboard. Produced in Landhaus with original cultures and traditional German production methods, it is aged for a very brief period resulting in a mild taste and flavor.

This cheese ripens in one month and has a fat content of 50 per cent. Since Butterkase can be sliced, spread or melted it is a perfect table cheese. It is very good with a glass of beer.
  • Made from cow's milk
  • Country of origin: Germany and Austria
  • Type: Semi-soft
  • Fat content: 50%
  • Texture:  Creamy, smooth and spreadable
  • Rind: natural
  • Color: pale yellow
Bavarian Blue is a recently-invented hybrid cheese, made from pasteurized cows' milk with additional cream. It has a pale, creamy interior, with splotches of blue mould, rather than veins. It has a white rind similar to that of Camembert. So high in butterfat (40%) that it is almost a triple cream, it is very spreadable, and is excellent with fresh fruit, or on French bread or neutral crackers.

A tangy Bavarian Sauerkraut is the perfect accompaniment to grilled brats and mustard.

Imported from Germany, these authentic Nuremberg Bratwurst follow a 500 year old recipe and are packed in thin casings, not the large diameter casing you find in today's ballpark brats. The legend behind Nuremberg Bratwurst is that a medieval judge was imprisoned in Nuremberg, so his family made him bratwurst skinny enough to fit through the prison door's key hole. These sausages just need a few minutes in the pan or on the grill to heat through, then serve with your favorite mustard and beer.

I adapted this recipe from Southern Living October 2012.  I used cherry instead of plum preserves and sliced them before browning instead of serving them whole.  They were a hit.

3/4 cup cherry preserves
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 t. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 lb. assorted fresh sausages 

Cook first four ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Reserve half of the mixture.

You can either grill the sausages or do as I did, slice them and brown them in a large skillet over high heat until they are nicely browned.

If you're grilling the sausages, after 10 - 12 minutes brush with half the glaze during the last 5 minutes of cooking.  

If pan browning, pour half of the glaze into the skillet with the sausages.

Remove from heat, let stand 5 minutes and serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Oktoberfest 2014 Table Setting

We celebrated Oktoberfest last night. I chose some of my treasured Hull Brown Drip Pottery pieces for the place settings. The glassware is Indiana Glass Kings Crown Amber. They have such a great heavy feel. Flatware is from World Market and table linens are from Wal-Mart.

My daughter gave me the little girl Hummel and I bought the little boy in Munich.

My late mother in law collected bells. This is one we brought her from Munich. I cherish it.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tri-Color Slaw with Oil and Vinegar Dressing

When making slaw, I almost always thinly slice the cabbage and use a mayo based dressing.  Talk about going in the opposite direction!  I certainly did with this one.  

Tri-Color?  Where did that name come from you ask?  

Green = green cabbage
Red = red onions
Orange = carrots from the garden

This time I used the food processor to speed up the process and to give a completely different texture to my slaw.  It was really surprisingly tasty even though so completely different than what I normally make.

For the slaw:
4 cups finely chopped green cabbage
1/2 finely chopped red onion
1 finely shredded carrot

Place all the veggies in a large bowl.

For the dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil*
1/3 cup white wine vinegar*
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. celery seeds
1 t. Dijon mustard

Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.  Slowly pour over the vegetable mixture and slowly stir to combine the dressing with the slaw.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. 

*The common ratio for oil and vinegar for a salad dressing is 3:1.  But I love vinegar so I always add more.  You should consider that when making this dressing.  You may (or may not) want to cut back on the vinegar a tad.

Dilly Tartar Sauce

Spur of the moment, mix together in a few minutes tartar sauce?  Yes.  With items you'll almost always have on hand?  Yes.  Why would you ever buy the bottled or jarred stuff with all the added preservatives you can't pronounce?  You don't have to....mix up this great dill version instead!

1 cup mayonnaise
2 T. finely minced onion
2 T. finely minced dill pickle slices or dill pickle relish
juice of 1/2 lime
1 clove finely minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
fresh or dried dill

In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, onion and pickles.  Stir in  lime juice and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with fresh or dried dill just before serving.  

If you can make the sauce a few hours ahead of serving time, the flavors will have time to blend.  Refrigerate of course.  :) 

Cornmeal Crusted Grouper Fillets

We brought home these beautiful grouper fillets from a recent trip to the Gulf Coast.  Sweet Harold wanted fried grouper and I was more than happy to cook his favorite seafood.  I know a lot of people use different seasoning blends, rubs or what have you.  For me, I am a purist when it comes to grouper.  I want to taste the fish and not the seasonings.  So this is just about as simple as can be.  I hope you try it and enjoy this recipe as much as we do!

2 lbs. grouper fillets, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
1 cup white self rising corn meal
salt and pepper

Place cornmeal in a shallow plate or baking dish.  Add salt and pepper to taste and mix together.

Lightly dust the fillets in the cornmeal mixture and heat oil in a deep fryer or a heavy Dutch oven to 375 degrees.

Add a few pieces of the fish to the hot oil and fry for 5 - 8 minutes depending on the size of the fillets.  Drain on paper towels and place on a baking sheet and put in a warm oven while you finish frying the other pieces of fish.

Lolly's Southern Hush Puppies

If you're going to enjoy a fish fry, an absolute MUST is a crunchy, light hush puppy.  Southern tradition is that people cooking outdoors would fry up these little cornmeal bits along with their other food as a side delicacy and would feed a few to the dogs to keep them quiet while the humans were eating.  Get it?  “Hush, puppies!”  I love that story.

Here's my version:

1 1/2 cups self rising white cornmeal
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped.
a few grinds a black pepper
1/4 t. finely chopped parsley
cooking oil heated to 375 degrees

In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, buttermilk and onions until thoroughly mixed together.  Add pepper and parsley and stir to mix.  

Heat canola or peanut oil in a deep fryer or in a heavy Dutch oven to a temperature of 375 degrees.  Using a 1 1/2 inch scoop, slowly release batter one hush puppy at a time.   Don't crowd the cooker.  Cook in batches for 5 - 6 minutes until golden brown, the hush puppies are floating in the oil and they are cooked through.

Continue until all the batter is used.  Serve immediately.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Classic Manhattan

Fall is here and for me that means it's time to bring out the bourbon. I know, I know, bourbon is THE ingredient for a summer mint julep. Bourbon is THE South. 

1/4 oz. sweet vermouth
1/4 oz. dry vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz. bourbon
1 maraschino cherry

Place the vermouth, bitters and bourbon in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Stir or shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.

I recently purchased this great cookbook.  Here's an opening:

"Pour in a splash of bourbon about as deep as the width of two fingers.  Take a gentle sip.  Taste that?  It's wood and vanilla and smoke and caramel.  Maybe even a hint, the slightly echo, of the sweet corn that started the journey leading to this brown liquid.......Sip slowly, savor.  And realize that what you're tasting is uniquely American and essentially southern.....it's origins are in the cornfields of Kentucky."

This little gem has recipes from cocktails to appetizers, to main course dishes to desserts....with Bourbon.  

We are going to have fun this Fall with this gem.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mediterranean Mondays - Beef Pizzaiola

Tonight we begin our new series of Mediterranean Mondays recipes. An added bonus is this is also a crock pot recipe. 30 minutes of prep last night, a quick warm up of ingredients on the stove top this morning and then into the crock pot on low from 6:30 to 4:30 p.m. I could smell the deliciousness of this dish in the garage before I even came into the house.

I would never steer you wrong. You must make this recipe. Beyond delicious. The beef slow cooked all day in a oregano infused tomato sauce is fall apart tender. I served mine over polenta. It would also be perfect over pasta. Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano put it over the top.

For the sauce:
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 t. dried oregano
1 cup full bodied red wine, such as Burgundy, Merlot, Barolo
2 28 oz. cans chopped tomatoes, with their juice

For the meat:
3 lb. beef sirloin, cut into 1 inch chunks
1 1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
cooked penne or farfalle pasta or polenta
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, for serving

To make the sauce:
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat and add the garlic, onion and oregano. Saute for 3 minutes, or until the onion begins to soften. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Transfer the mixture to the insert of a 5 - 7 quart slow cooker. Stir in the tomatoes. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low while preparing the meat.

To make the meat:
Sprinkle the beef with the salt and pepper. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat and brown the meat, a few pieces at a time. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 - 7 hours until the beef is tender.

Skim any excess fat from the sauce, taste for seasoning, and stir in the parsley. Serve the meat and sauce over pasta or polenta, sprinkle with the Parmigiano-Reggiano.

From The Mediterranean Slow Cooker Cookbook.

Apple Cinnamon White Cake

Yes, I thought this would be more of a bread even though "CAKE" is in the title. And, of course, with the beginning of Fall, what better way than to bake with apples and cinnamon. It's very light and has a delicious buttery brown sugar flavor. You bake it in layers so that you have a visually appealing apple/brown sugar "stripe" in the middle.

I doubled the recipe and made to loaves of this delicious cake. It's worth the time to take a few extra minutes and bake a double batch. Your family and friends will thank you.   

1/3 cup brown sugar
1 t. ground cinnamon
2/3 cup white sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 ½ t. vanilla extract
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ¾ t. baking powder
½ cup milk
1 apple, peeled and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan.

Mix brown sugar and cinnamon together in a bowl.

Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time, until incorporated; add vanilla extract.

Combine flour and baking powder together in a bowl; stir into creamed butter mixture.

Mix milk into batter until smooth. Pour half the batter into the prepared loaf pan; add half the apples and half the brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apple mixture into batter.

Pour the remaining batter over apple layer; top with remaining apples and brown sugar mixture. Lightly pat apples into batter; swirl brown sugar mixture through apples using a spoon.

Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.

from www.allrecipes.com

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mediterranean Mondays

Beginning tomorrow, we will have a series of recipes which incorporate two of my favorite things:  

1.  Mediterranean recipes 

2.  The ease of cooking in the crock pot.

Mondays for most of us are hectic and rushed after the relaxation of the weekend.  What better day to put the crock pot to use for you?  If you don't have time on Monday to do the prep work for the crock pot ingredients, do what I did tonight.  

Tomorrow's recipe will be Beef Pizzaiola.  Instead of getting up 30 minutes earlier tomorrow morning, I sauteed the onions and garlic tonight, browned the sirloin and let the ingredients cool.  Now they will sit in the fridge until tomorrow morning.  I'll take a few minutes to heat everything on the stove top to get the chill gone and then simply add to the crock pot to cook all day while I'm at work. 

I hope you enjoy the recipes I'll be sharing in the next few weeks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Cinnamon Sugar Apple Chips

Yesterday the three granddaughters and I decided to make apple chips for their afternoon snack. You can choose how many apples you want to use and just plan for a few hours in a very low temperature oven. They ate every single one. An added bonus? Your house will smell delicious!

Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
Peel and core apples. Slice very thinly and place on baking sheet.

Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. The picture below is how two 3 year olds and a 15 month old "sprinkle liberally."

Place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from oven and toss them to turn over as many as possible and return to oven for another hour.  Let cool and then enjoy.

Twice Baked Potatoes and Bacon and Eggs

This recipe caught Sweet Harold's attention a few weeks ago and I finally made it this morning.  Yes, it takes a little time, but have some coffee or tea, kick back and let the potatoes bake, prepare your filling, pop in the oven and have another cup of coffee while the eggs bake.  Perfect Saturday morning breakfast.

4 large russet potatoes
6 slices bacon
1/4 cup milk, warmed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
2 scallions, thinly sliced, plus more for topping (I used chives instead)
1 T. chopped fresh parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pierce the potatoes in a few places with a fork; place on a microwave-safe plate and microwave, turning halfway through, until tender, about 16 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, turning occasionally, until crisp, 9 to 11 minutes. Drain on paper towels, reserving the drippings. Roughly chop 4 slices and break the other 2 slices in half; set aside.

Slice off the top 1/4 inch of the potatoes lengthwise. Scoop the flesh from 3 potatoes into a medium bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch-thick shell. Repeat with the remaining potato but discard the flesh. Add 2 tablespoons of the reserved bacon drippings and the warmed milk to the bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork until smooth. Stir in the cheese, scallions (or chives), parsley, chopped bacon, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Season the inside of the potato skins with salt and pepper. Divide the filling among the skins, then press the back of a spoon down the center of the filling to create a long, deep well. Brush the outside of the skins with the remaining bacon drippings and transfer to the baking sheet.

One at a time, crack an egg into a ramekin or teacup, then carefully pour into each potato (it's OK if some of the egg white overflows). Transfer to the oven and bake until the whites are set, 20 to 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and top with more scallions and the halved bacon strips.

From Food Network Magazine

Zwiebelkuchen (Onion Pie)

And what is a "Zwiebelkuchen"? you may ask. Simply put it is an Onion Pie with carraway seeds and bacon.....and a delicious doughy crust. It's a great side dish to add to your Oktoberfest menu. 

6 pounds onions, sliced
4 slices bacon
16 oz. sour cream
4 eggs
2 T. all purpose flour
½ t. salt
½ t. caraway seed
2 recipes pastry for a 9 inch single crust pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a jelly-roll pan or large pizza pan with prepared dough, making sure dough extends up sides of pan.

Sauté onion in a skillet until translucent and pour cooked onion into a large mixing bowl. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, chop and add to onion; mix well.

Stir in sour cream. Beat eggs enough to break up yolks, then mix in to pie mixture. Add flour to thicken mixture (onions will create a lot of water), then add salt. Mix well and pour mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle top with caraway seed.

From www.allrecipes.com 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and (Home Canned) Sauce

Remember a few weeks ago when I canned spaghetti sauce?  Recipe here.  

Tonight I browned a pound of Italian sausage, mixed in the sauce and cooked a pound of spaghetti noodles.  I drained the noodles, saving about 1/2 cup of the pasta water and mixed the noodles and the pasta water into the sauce.  After plating, I grated lots of Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoyed a carb overload. 


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The very last tomato of the season.....

was eaten by none other than FLEUR DE LOLLY herself for dinner!

I chopped it up, drizzled it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of sea salt, a few grinds of black pepper and then added some crumbled blue cheese.  

I think it fulfilled its destiny, don't you?

Bikini Martini

I came up with this drink while at the beach a week or so ago.  Tropical, refreshing and tasty!

Moisten the rim of a glass with an orange or lime slice.  Dip the rim in sugar.

In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka and juice with ice.  Strain into rimmed glass and slowly pour in grenadine.

2 oz. vodka
4 oz. Welch's Pineapple, Orange, Apple Juice
1 oz. grenadine

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sweet Harold's Muffin Tin Biscuits with Golden Eagle Syrup

These biscuits have been a family favorite for years. If you're intimidated by the thought of making/baking rolled dough biscuits, these are a great starter version. And since Alabama was playing Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles, I had to use Golden Eagle Syrup proudly made in Alabama!

2 1/2 cup self rising flour
1/2 stick Crisco shortening
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease or spray with non stick spray a 12 cup muffin tin.

Blend flour and shortening together until mixture resembles small crumbs. Slowly pour in buttermilk and gently stir to combine.

Fill muffin tins 3/4 full.

Bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with butter, jam or, of course, lots of Golden Eagle Syrup!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Grilled Brats and Bavarian Sauerkraut

This may be one of the easiest entrees you can prepare for a fun and informal Oktoberfest meal. Take your favorite brat, grill either on a gas or charcoal grill or indoors with a grill pan and serve over warmed Bavarian Sauerkraut.  

OR, prepare them as above, and served on warmed and toasted buns with lots of spicy German mustard!

Oktoberfest Appetizers


What better way to begin your Oktoberfest Celebration than with a great selection of German cheeses? A visit to Whole Foods and a pleasant conversation with the cheese experts provided soft, hard, creamy, strong and mild choices for my dinner guests.  

I served pumpernickel and rye bread, cornichons, smoked trout and German mustard.


Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin with Honey Beer Glaze

Pork loin wrapped in bacon with a delicious honey and beer glaze is a great way to welcome Fall. I served this one at an Oktoberfest meal a few years ago and it was absolutely delicious. I adapted it a bit from a recipe found in Epicurious by adding the bacon. I think it as a great adaptation. 

For marinade
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 large onion, chopped
1/2 cup honey
3 cups beer (not dark), preferably German
a 3 1/2-pound boneless pork loin, tied (3 to 3 1/2 inches wide)
2 T. vegetable oil
a beurre manié, made by rubbing together 1 T. softened unsalted butter and 1 T. all-purpose flour
6 slices bacon

Make marinade:
In a large saucepan stir together marinade ingredients. Bring marinade just to a boil, stirring (marinade will rise and foam), and remove pan from heat. In a blender purée marinade in two batches, transferring it as puréed to bowl. Cool marinade to room temperature and spoon off any remaining foam. 

In a large heavy resealable plastic bag combine pork and marinade and seal bag, pressing out any excess air. Put bag in a baking pan and marinate pork, chilled, turning bag once or twice, at least 8 hours and up to 24. Let pork in marinade come to room temperature, about 40 minutes. Transfer marinade to a saucepan and bring just to a boil. 

Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pat pork dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. In a flameproof roasting pan heat oil over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking and brown pork on all sides. Carefully wrap bacon slices around pork loin and secure with toothpicks.  Roast pork in middle of oven, basting frequently with some marinade, until a meat thermometer registers 155°F. for slightly pink meat, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Transfer pork to a cutting board, reserving juices in roasting pan and discarding string and toothpicks securing bacon, and let stand, covered loosely with foil, about 15 minutes. 

While pork is standing, skim and discard fat from pan and add remaining marinade. Deglaze roasting pan over moderately high heat, scraping up brown bits. Bring sauce just to a boil and strain through a fine sieve into another saucepan. Bring sauce to a simmer and whisk in beurre manié, bit by bit, whisking until sauce is combined well and thickened slightly. 

Serve pork, sliced, with sauce.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Thank you Blog Readers!

Thank you for helping me reach yet another goal!  I love y'all!

Slow Cooked Beef and Blue Cheese Sliders with Horseradish Mayo and Au Jus

I love playing around with ideas for sliders. They're small, pack tons of flavor and they're fun to make and to eat. That's a grand slam in my book.

I let this boneless shoulder roast simmer literally all day on the stove top and it was starving us the entire afternoon. These are perfect anytime, but would be great to serve on game day. The roast beef could easily be cooked in a crockpot instead and the meat shredded and would hold nicely with the au jus until you were ready to eat.

2 T. vegetable oil
1.75 - 2 lbs. boneless shoulder roast
freshly ground black pepper
onion powder
granulated garlic
ground coriander
1 can beef consomme 
bay leaf
1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
your favorite blue cheese crumbled
1 cup mayonnaise
1 t. prepared horseradish (more or less to your taste)
slider buns or other small rolls

 In a medium Dutch oven, heat vegetable oil over high heat until it shimmers.

Liberally coat the roast on both sides with salt and the next four ingredients. Carefully put the roast into the hot oil and sear on all sides until browned.

Add the beef consomme and the bay leaf. Lower heat to simmer and add the onions.

Cover and let roast simmer for at least 5 - 6 hours, turning over occasionally. The roast will begin to fall apart on its own. This is what the roast looked like after cooking from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. See how it's already beginning to separate? This is what you want. And this will assure that it is extremely tender.

When you're ready to serve, remove the roast from the pot and put it on a platter or plate and separate with two forks. Strain the broth and add the onions to the shredded beef.

Separate the fat from the broth and bring the broth back to a simmer.

To prepare the horseradish mayo, combine the mayonnaise with the horseradish and add a little black pepper and salt if desired.

Spread on one half of the slider bun, pile on the beef and onions and top with the crumbled blue cheese. Serve with a ramekin or other small bowl of au jus on the side for dipping.