Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

Triple Stack Breakfast

It was time to bring out the 6 inch individual cast iron skillets this morning.  I love to use them to cook hash browns for breakfast.  I had bacon and, of course, eggs so how about making a STACK of breakfast goodness?  Excellent idea!

We'll take it step by step:

For the Hashbrowns:
2 Russet potatoes, peeled and shredded
2 T. corn oil, divided
salt, pepper

Heat 1 T. oil in each skillet over high heat.  Add half of the potatoes into each skillet and lightly press down with a metal spatula.

Lower the heat to medium and cook until the potatoes brown.  Carefully slide the spatula under the potatoes and turn them over so the other side can brown.

8 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces.  Place in skillet over low heat and fry until bacon is nice and crunchy.  Remove from skillet and let drain on paper towel covered plate.  Set aside.  Drain bacon grease from skillet.

Now the eggs!
2 eggs, lightly beaten in a small bowl with 1/2 t. water added.  Season with a little salt and pepper.

Over low heat, add 1 T. butter until it bubbles.  Pour the eggs into the skillet and let the eggs slowly begin to cook.  The secret to great scrambled eggs is to cook them very slowly.  I'm also VERY proud they're not sticking to the iron skillet!  That skillet is seasoned great!

Now the fun part when you begin stacking!  Using the hash browns as your base, divide the eggs between the individual skillets, sprinkle with the crumbled bacon.  You can then add some shredded cheese and thinly sliced green onions if you'd like.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Caesar Salad Burger

How about putting your salad ON the burger?  I'm always trying to come up with new ideas for burgers and/or toppings.  The absolutely delicious Caesar Salad dressing I made a night or two ago? I knew then it would be a perfect burger topping and yes, oh yes, yes, it was!

If you missed the dressing recipe, here it is:

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 - 3 cloves of garlic rough chopped (if you don't mind garlic breath, add more!)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 - 1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil (use less for a dip, more for a salad dressing)

Add the first six ingredients to a bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until the garlic is minced and everything is combined.

Turn the blender or food processor to low and, while running, slowly add the olive oil to the mixture.  This will allow the dressing to emulsify or thicken.

Taste and add any additional salt or pepper if needed.

So here's what I did to make the burgers:

1 1/2 pounds ground chuck 70/30 blend, divided into four patties, sprinkled with salt and pepper

Grill or pan fry burgers until your desired level of done-ness.

Spread a thin layer of butter on the buns and place them on the grill for just a few minutes.  This will mimic the flavor of Caesar Salad croutons.  Get it?  You know where we're going here.

I put a little Dijon mustard on the bottom bun, placed the burger, topped with a little of the dressing, padded a few leaves of Romaine lettuce and then a tad more dressing, a few more grates of Parmesan cheese and several grinds of black pepper.

It was amazing.  Try one.  You'll see. 

Baked Zucchini Chips with Parmesan

So I decided I'd jump on the Facebook bandwagon version of the zucchini chips that's floating around right now.  Granted, when I saw the picture, I thought those look like they have been kettle fried, not baked!  But because I love all of you, I decided to take one for the team.  

I offer up the FIRST ZUCCHINI from my garden for this experiment.  These were good, they were slightly chewy, and they were seasoned with Italian seasoning instead of paprika.  They were not, however, a version of a Lay's Wavy Potato Chip.  Do not make these with the expectation that you will have a nice stack of Zucchini Flavored Potato Chips.  You won't.  Maybe next time I'll cook them for 2 hours and then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp them up.

1 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and thinly sliced  (I used the food processor)
Olive oil or corn oil
Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Dried Italian Seasoning
Freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat oven to 225 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the zucchini slices on the parchment paper and lightly brush with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Bake for 2 - 2 1/2 hours.  Remove from oven and sprinkle on Parmesan Cheese. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Caesar Salad Dressing

Many times the first thing people think of when they hear Caesar dressing is ANCHOVIES. Granted, people either love or hate anchovies. I've found that sometimes people who say they hate them, have never tried them. So a nice way around that issue if you have those people in your life is to use Worcestershire sauce instead. By doing so, you will have the umami (which is Japanese for "pleasant savory taste") of the anchovies.

This dressing mixes up very quickly in the blender or food processor and is great not only on salads, but to top burgers and as a dip for fresh vegetables.

1/3 cup mayonnaise (I use Duke's)
2 T. fresh lemon juice
2 - 3 cloves of garlic rough chopped (if you don't mind garlic breath, add more!)
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 - 1/2 t. freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 - 3/4 cup olive oil (use less for a dip, more for a salad dressing)

Add the first six ingredients to a bowl of a food processor or blender and blend until the garlic is minced and everything is combined.

Turn the blender or food processor to low and, while running, slowly add the olive oil to the mixture.  This will allow the dressing to emulsify or thicken.

Taste and add any additional salt or pepper if needed.

Store in refrigerator.

This is so much better than the bottled salad dressings and you should have these ingredients in your pantry/fridge. Next time you're at the grocery store, check out the ingredient labels on various brands of Caesar Dressings. If you can't pronounce them, you probably shouldn't be eating them.  

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Smoked Beef Brisket

I wanted to smoke a beef brisket for Father's Day. And as things happen in life, when the meat was ready to go on the smoker, the smoker decided it wouldn't smoke any longer.  It had smoked its last meal.  Now some people would have panicked. There you are with a 6.5 pound beef brisket which had rested comfortably in the refrigerator all night with a delicious rub penetrating the meat to flavor it throughout.  

Thankfully, Lolly always has a Plan B.  Let's just move the brisket and the wood chunks to the propane grill.  The bowl of hickory wood chips (which had been soaked in water for about 30 minutes) went over the direct heat set to low.

The prepared brisket was placed in an aluminum pan and placed on the other side with NO heat under the pan.  The indirect heat cooked the brisket perfectly.

Let's get started with first things first.

The Rub:
4 T. iodized salt
2 T. granulated garlic
2 T. fine black pepper
2 t. cayenne pepper
3/4 T. dried thyme
3/4 T. dried oregano
2 T. paprika
1 T. onion powder
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. cumin
2 t. coriander
3 T. chili powder
1/2 T. dry mustard

Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and store in an airtight container until ready to apply to meat before cooking.

The night before cooking the brisket, trim the fat to 1/4" thickness and apply enough rub to cover the brisket completely.  Wrap in plastic wrap, place on a baking sheet and refrigerate overnight.

When you are ready to begin smoking the brisket, either place on the smoker or on your propane grill over indirect heat as outlined above.  Line an aluminum baking pan with two layers of foil.  Put the brisket in fat side up and you're ready to go.

You will need to keep the heat between 200 and 225 degrees.  Once you have the brisket on the grill or smoker....close the lid and let the brisket cook for two hours WITHOUT PEEKING!

Here's the brisket after two hours.

Baste the brisket with the pan drippings that are forming in the pan.  Close the cover and continue smoking the brisket for at least 6 - 8 hours depending on how much the brisket weighs.  A good rule of thumb is 1 1/4 hours per pound of meat.  Baste the brisket every 45 minutes.  About halfway through, replace the wood chunks with freshly soaked chunks.

After six hours, the brisket should be smoked enough that you can begin to check the temperature.  160-165 degrees is done for a brisket.

Here's what the brisket looked like after a little over 6 hours with indirect heat.

Remove from heat, wrap the pan with foil and let rest for 45 - 60 minutes before slicing.

When you're ready to serve, slice AGAINST THE GRAIN.  I was thrilled with the outcome of this one.  It was EXTREMELY tender.

Key Lime Cheesecake

Top off your next Mexican meal with this delicious cheesecake!

2 (8 oz.) pkgs. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
2 T. fresh key lime juice
1 t. grated lime peel
1/2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
1 graham cracker pie crust

Mix cream cheese, sugar, juice, peel and vanilla at medium speed with electric mixer until well blended.  Add eggs; mix until blended.

Pour into crust.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until center is almost set.  Cool  Refrigerate 3 hours or overnight.  Garnish with lime slices and whipped topping.

From Philadelphia Cream Cheese Ultimate Cheesecakes cookbook.

Southwestern Cole Slaw with Vegetables

This is NOT your typical cabbage/mayo/onion slaw.  This is a slaw which could very easily be a meal in itself. I just a lot of short cuts on this one, but it tasted like it had taken hours to prepare.

Remember to drain, rinse, drain the beans before adding them to the slaw.  And if you haven't tried Kraft Southwestern Ranch Dressing, it was the perfect dressing for this slaw.

1 lb. package tri color slaw mix
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 clove garlic, pressed
1 can Mexicorn, drained
1 (15 oz.) can black beans rinsed and drained
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 cup Kraft Southwestern Ranch Dressing (more or less depending on how wet you like your slaw)

In a large bowl, mix together all ingredients except for dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  

When you're ready to eat, remove from refrigerator and toss with dressing.  You can garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

Loaded Hasselback Potatoes

Most of you have either made or read about Hasselback Potatoes. I loaded these beautiful Yukon Golds up with pepper jack cheese bacon, sour cream, shredded Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, and chopped green onions. Not only were they delicious, they were beautiful as well! We eat with our eyes first, you know!

6 Yukon Gold Potatoes, scrubbed well and dried
corn oil
granulated garlic
chili powder
freshly ground black pepper
Pepper jack cheese cut into squares. I used this type. They were the perfect!
8 oz. bacon, cooked and crumbled
1/4 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
Sour cream and chopped green onions for garnish

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Carefully slice the potatoes without cutting all the way through. I place two wooden spoons down on my chopping block and place the potato in between them. The spoons will keep you from slicing through all the way.

Repeat until all the potatoes are sliced and then very carefully slightly fan them open. Rub with the corn oil and place into our baking dish. Season with salt, garlic, chili powder and freshly ground black pepper. Let bake for at least at hour until a knife inserted into the potato goes through easily.  

Remove from oven and place the squares of cheese in between the potato slices.It's entirely up to you if you want a slice of cheese in each spot or if you want to skip and put one every other slice. I say the more cheese the better.

Return to oven and let cook for 10 minutes or so until the cheese begins to melt. Remove from oven and add shredded cheese, bacon, sour cream, and green onions. Serve immediately.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Texas Sunset

If you're looking for a new drink to try with your Southwest meals instead of the same old margarita, I think you'll like this one!  The grenadine is added last so it sinks to the bottom and really does look like the colors of a sunset.  This drink is one of the specialties at Bonnell's Fine Texas Cuisine, Fort Worth, Texas.

For ONE drink:

2 1/2 oz. Bacardi Limon
1 oz. Gran Marnier
1/2 oz. Tequila
1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice
3/4 oz. grenadine

Mix all ingredients except for grenadine in a bar shaker with one scoop of ice and shake well to chill.  Strain well, and pour into a chilled martini glass.  Pour the grenadine in last to achieve that "perfect sunset" look.  Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

From The Big Texas Steakhouse Cookbook.

Baked Southwestern Spinach Dip

This dish was the appetizer portion of our Father's Day meal. As you know, spinach dip is a personal favorite of mine. So I changed my tried and true recipe a tad and thought by baking it, we'd have a completely different dip. This casserole dip was inhaled! I say that is a ringing endorsement.

1 T. olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 can Rotel tomatoes, drained
2 (8 oz.) packages of cream cheese, softened and cut into 1" cubes
1 (10 oz.) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 package Knorr's vegetable dip mix
3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced (plus more for garnish)
2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped tomatoes, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet, over medium-high head, add olive oil.  Next, toss in the onions and jalapenos and let cook until they begin to soften.  Add garlic and cook about a minute, stirring constantly.

Add the tomatoes and let them heat through and then add the cream cheese cubes and stir until cheese is melted.

Stir in the spinach, dip mix and green onions.  Then add 1 cup of the shredded cheese.

Lightly spray a 9 x 11 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Carefully pour dip into the baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-25 minutes until heated through.  Remove foil and add remaining cheese.  Return to oven for 5 minutes to melt cheese.

Top with chopped tomatoes, green onions and/or chopped cilantro.  Serve with tortilla chips or Scoops.

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015 Table Setting - A little bit of the Southwest

For today's meal, we're going to incorporate a lot of flavors from the Southwest.  Harold has many treasured pieces of pottery that we acquired while on a trip to the Southwest about 10 years ago.  He chose the pieces of pottery that adorned the table today.  

The  place settings are Pfaltzgraff's Sedona pattern, the dessert plates are Fiestaware, silverware is from World Market and table linens are from Kohl's.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Hertz "Father's Day Away" Sweepstakes

Celebrate the hero in your life! Take the Hertz Father's Day Away quiz to discover your dad's ultimate Father's Day experience!
Share your results with friends across social media using #FathersDayAway hashtag to increase your chances of winning. 

Prizes: Two winners will receive a Hertz Father's Day Away which includes an adventure tailored to his interests and personality!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Smoked Pork Tenderloin Sandwiches

This is a great way to make another meal that is entirely different than the one you started with. Remember the smoked pork tenderloins that were cooked over the fire pit? I was fortunate enough to be sent home with leftovers and tonight I sliced the tenderloins lengthwise, heated them and placed on French baguettes.  One half is served with mayo (Duke's of course!) and mustard and the other with Zatarains Creole Yellow Mustard.  

Very nice supper tonight.

Thick Cut Pork Chops and Pork Tenderloin cooked over the fire pit

A friend invited us over for a "little cookout" Sunday evening.....by the time we arrived the thick cut pork chops and pork tenderloin was almost ready.    As you can tell, he had moved them over to the "indirect heat" area of the grill to allow them to finish their smoking over green hickory. The meal was sublime.

My contribution?  A dozen deviled eggs and chorizo and pepper jack cheese stuffed jalapenos.  Recipe for those are here.

Chorizo and Pepper Jack Cheese (this time cooked on an open fire pit)

I posted this recipe last weekend when I had cooked some of these little beauties on the grill.  A friend cooked some pork (!!!) over his open fire pit a few days ago and I decided I'd try them again cooked this way.  Oh wow...the smokiness made a huge difference in the taste.  These were wonderful.

Here's the recipe:

1 T. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
8 oz. chorizo (I used Johnsonville brand)
4 oz. shredded Pepper Jack cheese
12 medium sized jalapeños, seeds removed

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, add olive oil and onions.  Allow onions to soften slightly, 2 - 3 minutes.  

Add the chorizo and break it up with the back of a wooden spoon and let it cook with the onions, 8 - 10 minutes.

Drain well and add the shredded cheese.

Remove from heat and allow to come to room temperature.

I have a handy dandy pepper stuffer.  I bought it at Academy Sports.  Here's the link.  It made fast work of stuffing the jalapeños.

Place them in the pepper holder and place on the grate over your charcoal grill or fire pit.  Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes depending on how hot your fire/coals are.

 Enjoy!  (Depending on the heat of your peppers, you may want to serve a little sour cream alongside!)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mexican Cornbread Cactus Shaped Muffins

These Lodge cast iron muffin pans are some of my favorite pieces.  To go along with our Southwestern themed grill party Saturday night, I decided to bake some Mexican cornbread with extra Mexican blend shredded cheese.

Mix one package of Martha White Mexican Cornbread Mix according to package directions and add 1/3 cup of your favorite shredded cheese to the mix.  Bake according to package directions.

One package made 10 of these cactus shaped muffins.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Grilled Chicken Thighs with Mesquite BBQ Sauce

Chicken thighs sometimes get a bad rap.  It seems like everyone wants boneless/skinless chicken breasts.  Well, in my opinion, bone-in chicken thighs are where the flavor is AT!  They are so versatile and one of my favorite ways to enjoy them are grilled with Southwestern seasoning.

Here's the recipe for the batch I keep mixed up and stored in the spice and seasoning pantry:

5 T. iodized salt
2 T. granulated garlic
2 T. fine black pepper
2 t. cayenne pepper
3/4 T. dried thyme
3/4 T. dried oregano
2 T. paprika
1 T. onion powder
1/2 T. dried basil
1/2 T. cumin
2 t. coriander
2 T. chili powder
1/2 T. dry mustard
Rinse and pat dry the chicken thighs.  Sprinkle both sides with the Southwestern seasoning.
Preheat the grill until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees.  Place chicken thighs skin side down on the grates.
Let the chicken cook for 10 - 12 minutes before turning.  After turning, allow chicken to cook for another 10 minutes or so until chicken reaches an internal temp of 180 degrees and juices run clear.

During the last 5 minutes or so of cooking time, brush on your favorite Mesquite flavored BBQ Sauce.  Let the sauce glaze on the chicken and turn and apply sauce to the other side.  

Mixed Veggie Grill Basket

If you don't own a grill basket, I will tell you it's a good investment.  With a non-stick finish, clean up is easy smeasy and the vegetables will cook to the perfect soft/crispness.  Does that make sense?  You don't want them crunchy, but you certainly don't want them mushy!

You can choose whatever vegetables you like, but here's what I used:
1 medium red onion, peeled and cut into 1/2" chunks
1 medium yellow squash, halved lengthwise and then cut into 1/2" pieces
2 cups of broccoli florets
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

First let's make the marinade:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 T. honey
4 t. balsamic vinegar
1/2 t. granulated garlic
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. ground coriander
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

In a small bowl, whisk the marinade ingredients together.  Put 3 T. of the marinade in a large, resealable plastic bag.  Add your choice of vegetables; seal the bag and turn it over and over several times to coat all the vegetables.

Let the vegetables marinate for about an hour at room temperature.

Transfer the vegetables to a grilling basket and place the basket on the grill.  Grill the vegetables, covered, over medium heat for 12 - 15 minutes.  Stir them occasionally.

Place the vegetables on a large serving plate and drizzle with remaining marinade.