Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Caramel Apple Sparklers

We have been enjoying these delicious adult beverages for the last few weeks of Fall. I can guarantee that they are too yummy not to be enjoyed any time of the year. If you like caramel apples, you'll fall in love with this bubbly version.

1 ounce caramel vodka
3 ounces apple cider
2 ounces sparkling wine / prosecco / champagne
Honey and coarse sugar for garnish

Dip the rim of a champagne flute into honey and then into coarse sugar to create a sparkling rim for your cocktail.

Then, to the glass, add the caramel vodka and apple cider. Top with sparkling wine.

Thanks to www.berries.com for the recipe!

Turkey, Andouille & Tasso Gumbo a/k/a Gobble Gobble Gumbo

This is my favorite tradition of the Thanksgiving season. I always make turkey gumbo in some form the day after Thanksgiving for us to enjoy during the weekend. This year I put the turkey carcass along with some vegetable scraps, lots of water, some peppercorns, and a bay leaf in the crock pot overnight.  I had about 3 quarts of gorgeous turkey stock ready the next morning.

I enjoy the chopping of the vegetables, the stirring to make the roux, the delicious aroma as the gumbo simmers all afternoon.  Served over hot rice, this is a great alternative to all those leftover turkey sandwiches.

6 T. butter
6 T. all purpose flour
2 large yellow onions, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
4 ribs celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 quarts turkey or chicken stock, simmering in a large Dutch oven
2 quarts water
8 oz. tasso, chopped
8 oz. andouille, chopped
2 cups cooked, shredded turkey
2 T. Creole seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
sliced green onions
hot sauce (optional)
hot cooked rice

In a large cast iron skillet, melt butter over medium heat. When it bubbles, add flour and begin to stir. The secret of a great roux is to get comfortable, pour yourself a nice drink and stir. And stir. And stir. If you scorch the roux, throw it out and begin again. After about 20 minutes or so you'll have a dark chocolate colored roux.

Add vegetables and garlic at this point, all at once. Be careful because there may be some splattering. You don't want to get any of the roux on your skin. It will burn! Stir the vegetables into the roux and they will begin to soften. Let them cook for a few minutes and then slowing begin adding the stock to the vegetables a few ladles at a time.

Add the water and the tasso, andouille and turkey. Raise heat to bring the gumbo to a boil and add the Creole seasoning and cayenne pepper.

Lower heat to a simmer, partially cover and let cook for an hour or two.

Taste and adjust seasonings. You may need to add some salt at this point. Depending on what Creole seasoning brand you use, you may not need to add any additional salt.

Serve over hot rice and top with thinly sliced green onions. Hot sauce is optional. 

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Crock Pot Turkey Stock

Isn't that a gorgeous picture? Please don't throw away your turkey carcass when you're finished picking all the turkey off the bones for leftovers. If you want the easy way of making turkey stock, here you go. Let the crockpot do the work for you. Place the turkey carcass, any onion peelings or celery scraps you have left from making your dressing or stuffing, a bay leaf, a teaspoon or so of pepper corns and enough water to reach almost to the top of the stock ingredients in a crock pot and set to low.  Cover and let the crock pot do the work.

Here's mine right before I put the lid on the pot.

My batch simmered on low for about 12 hours. Here is is the next morning.

Remove the large pieces with tongs and let stock cool. Strain through a cheesecloth or a fine mesh sieve. Now you're ready to make gumbo, turkey soup or freeze for use later.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Rosemary and Cranberry Spread

My daughter found this recipe and asked me to make it for a family gathering this weekend. I'm very glad she found this one. Very simple and easy to make and would be wonderful to keep on hand during the holiday season for drop in guests.  

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 t. garlic powder
4 T. dried sweetened cranberries, chopped
2 t. chopped fresh rosemary
fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt

Place cream cheese into a bowl and using a spoon, fold in all ingredients until well combined.  Serve alongside crackers or toasted baguette slices.

Thanks to Life's Ambrosia

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

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Sunday, November 15, 2015

German Chocolate Macaroons

I will preface this blog post by stating that I am not a huge fan of coconut. However, once I tried these delicious macaroons, I will say I am a fan of THESE!

This recipe made about 4 dozen macaroons. They are very easy to make and drizzling on the chocolate and caramel topping was FUN!

5 1/3 cups shredded sweetened coconut
3/4 cup sugar
6 T. flour
1/2 t. salt
5 egg whites
1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

Chocolate topping:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
1 T. shortening

Sweetened Condensed milk topping:
6 ounces sweetened condensed milk

Place sweetened condensed milk in a double boiler until slightly thickened (about 45 minutes). Keep warm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or lightly grease and flour the cookie sheets.

In a large mixing bowl, combine coconut, sugar, flour, and salt. Toss and mix well. Lightly beat egg whites and mix in the egg whites and nuts.
Using a round tablespoon, drop macaroons onto prepared cookie sheets.

Bake for 20 - 23 minutes or until golden brown on top. Place on cooling rack.

Melt chocolate with shortening in microwave in 30 second increments, stirring in between each increment until chocolate is melted. Drizzle chocolate over macaroons.

Then drizzle thickened sweetened condensed milk over the chocolate.

From Chef in Training.

Nine Layer Salad

I love this type of salad. You can mix and match the veggies you like, but one thing is certain it MUST contain petite green peas. Well, I think it must.  Commonly called a Seven Layer Salad, I had a couple more layers and, trust me, this salad was none the worst for those additions. I'll give you my general outline of my layers and you can go from there. 

One tip I will pass along before we get started is regarding the chopped tomatoes. Before you start layering and assembling the layers, chop the tomatoes first. Place them a few at a time in a mesh strainer placed over a bowl. Sprinkle with salt as you peel and chop the remaining tomatoes. The salt helps to pull the juice out of the tomatoes. You'll be surprised how much juice will be in the bowl when you're ready to use the tomatoes. If you don't take this step, all that juice will be in the bottom of your lovely serving bowl. That would not be good.

As you build your layers, you can fill in the middle with more of the romaine and spinach.

Layer 1:  3 - 4 cups of chopped romaine lettuce
Layer 2:  3 - 4 cups baby spinach
Layer 3:  2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
Layer 4:  6 hard boiled eggs, peeled and chopped
Layer 5:  1 lb. bacon, cooked, drained and chopped
Layer 6:  4 - 5 tomatoes, chopped and drained well
Layer 7:  1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
Layer 8:  8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Layer 9:  10 oz. frozen green peas, partially thawed

Dressing: 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 3/4 cup sour cream, 1 t. white wine vinegar, 1 T. sugar

Use a trifle bowl, or a clear glass bowl with straight sides so all your beautiful layers will show to their best advantage. 

Begin to layer in the other I listed above. Sprinkle the romaine and spinach with salt and pepper. Instead of spreading all your ingredients all the way across the greens, concentrate on placing them against the side of the bowl. 

Fill in the middle with the greens as you go. End with a layer of peas that WILL go all the way across the top of the layers.

Whisk together all the dressing ingredients. Pour over the top of the salad, carefully spreading to the edges of the bowl.

A few grinds of black pepper add the perfect finishing touch.

Cover and refrigerate for up to 6 - 8 hours. Toss just before serving or let your guess spoon down through the layers.

Outdoor Autumn Brunch Table Setting

I thought you might enjoy a few pictures of our brunch table from this morning. A few weeks ago, a friend shared a picture of a lovely table setting on a deck with gorgeous Fall leaves in the background. Unfortunately, most of our leaves have fallen, but I can always trust Fiestaware to help showcase Fall beauty in dinnerware (brunchware?) form.

The tablecloth and napkins are from Kohl's. Silverware from World Market. Those amazing hand crafted wooden chargers? Sorry, those are one of a kind, never to be made again, chargers that I received for my birthday this year.  

And now to showcase the Fiestaware! Dinner plates are Sage, salad plates are Ivory, and the small bowls are Paprika. The water glasses are Fiestaware, too!

Cranberry, Pecan and White Cheddar Cheese Ball

If you're tied of the same old cheese ball, here is a delicious new version. The tartness of the dried cranberries pairs wonderfully with the sharpness of the white cheddar. Please, please, please shred your own cheese. The few minutes it takes to shred a small block of cheddar will make all the difference in the texture of these cheese ball. Pre-shredded cheese is coated with cellulose so that doesn't stick together in the bag. 

1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
8 oz. good quality sharp white cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 t. salt
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries.
crackers for serving

Place pecans in a small skillet over very low heat. Toast pecans for 5 minutes or so, stirring often. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, using a hand mixer, beat together the cream cheese and the cheddar cheese. Add in the pecans, salt, and the Worcestershire sauce. Continue mixing for another minute or two until everything is well combined. Remove the mixture from the bowl and form into a ball with your hands.

Using small handfuls at a time, place dried cranberries all over the cheese ball, pushing in lightly to secure them into place. Try to cover as much as possible except the bottom of the cheese ball. 

Wrap in plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Serve with assorted crackers.

Adapted from Eat, Drink, Love

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Italian Sausage & Penne Pasta One Pot Dinner

Last Saturday was a classic November day. Drizzling rain, dark gray skies and the atmosphere that makes you crave comfort food. This recipe will make you feel warm, comforted and satisfied. Now that's not putting much pressure on these simple ingredients is it? A huge added bonus is that it is cooked in one pot. One pot. Here's our cast of characters.

1 lb. mild (or hot) Italian sausage
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 T. dried Italian seasoning
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes
salt and freshly ground black pepper
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 14.5 oz. diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano 
6 oz. water
2 cups dried mini penne pasta
14 oz. ricotta cheese
chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan for garnishing

In a 4 quart Dutch oven, add Italian sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Set heat to medium and let sausage begin to brown. 

Add onion, pepper, and garlic and stirring occasionally, let mixture cook until sausage is cooked and vegetables have softened, about 7 - 8  minutes.

Add Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, salt (about 1 t.) and several grinds of black pepper. Drain fat from pot if needed.

Add tomatoes and water and stir to combine. Raise heat until you have a gentle boil. Add pasta and lower heat to a simmer. Stir to make sure pasta is mixed in to the liquid so it is completely covered.

Let pasta cook for 8 - 10 minutes until it has reached the al dente stage.

Add ricotta cheese a spoonful at a time until all the cheese is in the pot. Turn off heat and allow the ricotta to melt into the sauce.

Remove from heat and garnish with chopped parsley and grated Parmesan.

Serve with garlic bread. 

Oh yes....you'll only have ONE pot to wash!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Autumn Appetizer Tray

For last Sunday's dinner, I thought a cheese and fruit tray would be a nice change of pace. A mixed bag of Fall colored Fiestaware saucers mimics the beautiful color of Fall leaves. A wooden serving tray/bowl from World Market was appropriate for the cheese and fruit.

In the center bowl, is a nice "Sweet Cajun Mix" of peanuts, honey roasted AND Cajun sesame sticks, almonds, and corn nuggets. Sweet and spicy in each bite.

Now for our cheeses: 

At the bottom of the tray is a delicious cranberry white cheddar. Delicate cheddar blended with the tartness of the cranberries makes for a wonderful cheese paired with grapes and pears.

The crackers are Town House Focaccia crackers. They're sturdy enough to hold a nice slice of cheese and the flavor is amazing. Next up is Chèvre, a goat cheese having a unique tart and earthy flavor. This one is a semi-soft cheese. Now add some lovely dark purple grapes to that tray!


We'll move on around from the grapes to one of the best new cheeses I've tried in a LONG time. Morel Mushroom & Leek Monterey Jack cheese has an earthy flavor from the morel mushrooms complimented by leek onions and the creamy and buttery flavor of the monterey jack. I purchased this one at Publix and eaten bite for bite with Bosc pear....Oh my.  

A thinly sliced baguette finished out the appetizer tray. Seriously, I think this would do just fine as DINNER one night.

November Sunday Dinner Table

How better to continue to celebrate Fall than to set a lovely Sunday afternoon dinner table with gorgeous Fall colors?

I used place mats and napkins from Wal-Mart.  I love the plaids. Fiestaware NEVER disappoints. You can mix and match Fiesta colors with anything and it always looks like a million bucks.

The bright and colorful large pheasants were purchased at a yard sale in Ohio! They made the trip South without incident and look perfect next to the small pheasant salt and pepper shakers which were a find on e-bay.  The pheasant glasses? e-bay as well!

The silverware is courtesy of World Market. 

Chicken Pot Pie x 2!

This recipe will make two chicken pot pies. Trust me, while you're making one, it's just as easy to make two. Bake and freeze one of them for those times where you know dinner is going to be a problem. Put the frozen one in the fridge that morning and pop it in the oven to heat through that evening.

I like the filling in my pot pies to be thick and creamy. I don't like cutting into a pot pie and the filling oozing everywhere across the plate. This filling is almost like a casserole filling.  I hope you enjoy.

3 chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and shredded (or rotisserie chicken -- you'll need about 3 cups of chicken
2 cans cream of chicken soup with herbs
1 can cream of onion soup
16 oz. sour cream
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
2 - 16 oz. bags of mixed frozen vegetables thawed
4 pie crusts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place a bottom layer of pie crust into two separate baking dishes (pie plates).

In a large bowl, whisk together soups, sour cream, and black pepper. Gently stir in vegetables and chicken until well combined.

Spoon into pie crusts and place another pie crust on top of the filling and crimp edges of crusts together. Pierce the top layer of crust with a fork several times to allow steam to escape.

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes until filling is hot and and the crust has browned. If crust begins to brown too much, place strips of foil around the outer edges until the filling is hot.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Black Cat: Chocolate Gateau with Raspberry Puree

I always have trouble deciding whether to refer to this type of dessert as a cake or a pie. It’s very dense like a fudge brownie, and the texture is definitely unlike a sponge cake. Why don’t you just make one and help me decide?

A word of caution: Serve very small slices.  It’s rich!

¾ cup superfine sugar, plus some for sprinkling in spring form pan
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¾ cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
2 t. vanilla extract
5 eggs, separated
¼ cup flour, sifted
Pinch of salt

For the fruit coulis:
1 lb. berries, plus extra for garnishing
½ cup superfine sugar
Juice of one lemon

Put the berries in a pan with ½ cup sugar and heat very gently, stirring with a wooden spoon from time to time. When the mixture comes to a simmer, cook gently for another 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or a food processor and whiz to a puree, then strain through a cheesecloth lined strainer into a bowl. Let the coulis cook, stirring occasionally to prevent a skin forming. When cold, stir in the lemon juice.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Generously butter a 9 ½ inch spring form pan then sprinkle the pan with a little sugar and tap out the excess. Set aside 3 T. of the sugar, you are going to use it for the egg whites.

Place the chocolate, butter and remaining sugar in a heavy saucepan and cook over low heat until the chocolate and butter have melted and the sugar has dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract and let the mixture cool slightly.

Beat the egg yolks into the chocolate mixture, beating each in well, and then stir in the flour.

In a clean, grease free bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites slowly until they are frothy. Increase the speed, add the salt and continue beating until soft peaks form. Sprinkle over the reserved sugar and beat until the whites are stiff and glossy. Beat one-third of the whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites.

Carefully pour the mixture into the pan and tap the pan gently to release any air bubbles.

Bake the cake for about 35 – 45 minutes until well risen and the top springs back when touched lightly with a fingertip. Transfer the cake to a wire rack, remove the side of the pan and let cool completely.

Remove the pan base and transfer to a serving plate.

From www.melangery.com  

Friday, November 6, 2015

Scallops with White Wine Sauce

Some people are hesitant to cook scallops. This is a great recipe to try if you've never cooked them before or if you want to try a new version

2 pounds of sea scallops, rinsed and dried by gently patting with a paper towel
1/8 cup olive oil 
2 T. minced garlic 
1/2 cup white wine (we used Pinot Grigio) 
Juice from 1 lemon 
2 T. fresh chives, chopped
2 T. green onions, chopped
2 T. butter 

Add the olive oil to a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Carefully add scallops to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes on each side. 

Remove scallops from the skillet, place on a serving platter or bowl, and cover to keep warm. Lower heat slightly and slowly add wine to the skillet.

Next add the lemon juice, garlic, and butter to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium low and let the sauce thicken while you stir constantly for 4 - 5 minutes.  

When thickened, pour the sauce over the scallops and sprinkle with the onions and chives. Serve immediately. 

Feeds 6 or 4 REALLY hungry people.

Roasted Potato Salad

When dining with friends this past week, our host made this potato salad on the fly. I loved it enough to beg the recipe and to get everyone to wait about eating until I could snap photos.  

These potatoes were grown in the garden and have been waiting patiently for their turn to make it to the dining table. Here's his recipe.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Wash the potatoes well and cut them into 1 inch chunks. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the potatoes roast for about 45 minutes. During that 45 minute time, stir them around every 15 minutes or so.  

Remove from oven and spoon into a serving bowl. Sprinkle with lots of chopped green onions and chives. Top with about a quarter cup of sour cream and 2 T. butter.  

Brought to the table for serving, this made a lovely presentation. THEN, he mixed all the ingredients together. WAIT. Time for another picture!

Roasted Honeyed Carrots

The garden continues to bless us with carrots. Beautiful, colorful, healthy, delicious carrots. My favorite way to enjoy them is to simply roast them with a little olive oil, salt and pepper.

Here's how we prepared this batch:

Trim away the greens from the carrots and wash them thoroughly.  

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Place carrots on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the carrots roast for about 20 minutes and, using a spatula, turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes or so.

Remove from oven and gently spoon about 3 T. of honey over the roasted carrots. You can add a little chopped parsley if you want.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Children's Thanksgiving Table 2015

It's the season for the Gobble! As always, I love playing mix and match with different pieces to come up with "new" tables each year.  I hope the little ones will enjoy the Turkey Theme of their table.

The tablecloth and napkins are from Kohl's.  The chargers are from J.C. Penney.

 The dinner plates are Fiestaware and the turkey salad sized plates are from Wal-Mart.

Silverware was purchased at World Market.

These cute little mason jar type glass mugs were steals for $1 each at Dollar General.

Mr. Turkey was purchased at a church bazaar about 30 years ago!  He's very special to me.

The candle holders were purchased at a dollar store about 30 years ago as well. The wooden pumpkin is a current item for sale at Hobby Lobby.