Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Scrambled Eggs & Home Fries Benedict

Well, the creativity bug bit me this morning.  I had bagels, eggs, Yukon gold potatoes, bacon, sausage and cheese.  I decided to toast the bagels and build from there.  I hope you enjoy this mixed up version of Eggs Benedict!

This will make two (large) servings.

1 bagel, split and toasted
2 small Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice
3 T. oil
4 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 sausage patties, cooked and chopped
1 T. butter
4 eggs, lightly beaten (add a little salt and pepper and 1/2 t. water)
2 slices American cheese

Hollandaise Sauce Ingredients:
1 egg yolk
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 1/2 t. lemon juice
1/8 t. salt
1/2 stick butter, melted

In a large skillet, heat oil over high heat.  Add potatoes and fry until well browned and crunchy.  Drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Lightly salt.

Drain oil from skillet and add butter.  Lower heat to low.  Add eggs and gently stir until soft curds form.  Add bacon, sausage and cheese.  Continue to gently stir until eggs are cooked and cheese has melted.  Remove from heat.

In a blender, add the egg yolk, cayenne pepper and lemon juice.  Pulse a few times until egg yolk is frothy.  Add salt and with blender running on low slowly add melted butter.  Sauce with thicken as the butter is added.

On each plate, place one half of the toasted bagel.  Top with a portion of the scrambled egg goodness, then some of home fries and then drizzle sauce over the top.  Add a little freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Green Beans & Potatoes with Lemon Pepper and Dill

Roasting vegetables brings out their natural sweetness.  These three vegetables roast particularly well. If you have tried Brussels Sprouts before and didn't care for them, try this recipe and give them another try.  If you're already a fan, add this one to your vegetable side dish routine.  You'll be glad you did.

4 cups of sliced lengthwise Brussels Sprouts
1 lbs. thin green beans
3 cups peeled, cubed potatoes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 t. lemon pepper
1/2 t. dried dill
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix vegetables together. Pour olive oil over vegetables and sprinkle with lemon pepper, dill and salt.

Using a large spoon, stir to combine and to make sure all the vegetables are coated with olive oil and seasonings.

Pour out onto a large baking sheet and roast in hot oven for 20 - 30 minutes until vegetables are well browned.  Remove from oven and stir halfway through roasting time.  Taste and add more salt, dill or lemon pepper if desired.

Mixed Green Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

If you're busy with a more complex recipe to try for Valentine's, here is the perfect salad.  Buy pre-bagged salad greens and dress with your favorite raspberry vinaigrette.  

Your guest(s) will enjoy this fresh, tart salad and give you more time to work on other portions of the meal!

Pan Seared Scallops in Vanilla Cream Sauce with Angel Hair Pasta

Harold said he would order this a second time if it was in a restaurant. I would not. I couldn't get past the vanilla in a savory dish. It smelled wonderful, was super easy and fast to make, but it didn't work for me. On the other hand, Harold loves vanilla and he said it made him happy.

6 ounces Angel Hair pasta
1 T. butter
1 T. white onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, minced
2 T. dry white wine
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 t. vanilla extract
salt to taste
white pepper to taste
1 T. vegetable oil
1 T. butter
6 large sea scallops, side muscle removed, patted dry
salt to taste
Thyme for garnish

Prepare pasta according to package direction. In a skillet sauté white onion and garlic in butter over medium high heat without browning until transparent.

Deglaze the pan with wine reducing to half. Add the cream, reduce again by half; add the vanilla and salt to taste.

In another skillet with oil and butter over high heat, quickly sear scallops for 2 minutes each side, do not overcook.

Spoon sauce onto plates; twirl pasta around a long-tined fork, slip off onto plates atop the sauce. Add 3 scallops per plate, garnish and serve.

adapted from http://www.finedinings.com/

Strawberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce and Chocolate Dipped Strawberry

You can't get a much easier dessert for Valentine's Day than this one.  I used a very short stemmed martini glass.  Any small serving bowl will do just fine.

Moisten the rim of the glass or bowl with water and sprinkle with red finishing sugar.

Spoon a tablespoon or three of chocolate syrup into the bottom and top with a scoop of strawberry ice cream.

Dip a strawberry into chocolate syrup and secure on a toothpick which you then place in the ice cream.  Top with a little whipped cream and some fresh mint and there you go!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Shrimp & Lobster Bisque

This recipe may be made with both shrimp and lobster, or only one if you prefer.

1 pound shrimp in the shell (shell and devein shrimp)
½ pound lobster, chopped
½ cup white onions, fine diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 cups chicken stock
3/4 cup white wine or sherry
2 cups heavy cream
1 t. paprika
2 T. butter

Peel the raw shrimp or lobster.  Reserve the shells.

In a heavy sauté pan, add butter, shrimp and/or lobster shells, onions, add garlic. Cook for 7 - 8 minutes until onions are transparent and soft.

Deglaze bottom of pan with white wine or sherry. Run the deglazed mixture through a strainer. Add the strained liquid to the chicken stock in a large Dutch oven and stir over medium-high heat.

Add shrimp and/or lobster to the mixture. Stirring constantly, reduce volume by half.

Add heavy cream and paprika, bring to a boil and simmer for two to three minutes.

I used both shrimp and lobster. In my opinion (and that of trusted friends and excellent cooks) this wouldn't classify as a true bisque because this is not a pureed creamy texture. It IS however, an excellent chunky, thick, creamy bowl of goodness.

Deviled Clam Stuffed Mushrooms

I served these for a Valentine's meal a few years ago.  Pretty cute presentation, yes?

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
2 T. melted butter
1 T. flour
1 (6 1/2 oz.) can minced clams, undrained
1 T. chopped parsley
1/2 c. seasoned dry bread crumbs
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dry mustard
8 large mushroom caps, cleaned or 8 pastry shells

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In medium pan, cook garlic in butter until golden. Stir in flour.

Add remaining ingredients; mix well. Spoon into 8 tiny baking shells or 8 large mushroom caps.***

Put into shallow baking pan. Bake 6 minutes or until hot.

***I used baby portabello mushrooms.  Next time, I'd brush them with olive oil and bake for a few minutes before stuffing and baking for the second time.

adapted from http://www.cooks.com/

Monday, January 26, 2015

Crab Louie Salad

A layered salad in a stemmed glass,adds a touch of fun to your Valentine's meal!

Lettuce, sliced 1/4-inch thick
Fresh Dungeness crab meat - (I used a 6 oz. packaged lump crab)
Cucumber, peeled, seeded, diced finely
Tomatoes, seeded, diced finely
Green onion, sliced
Celery, diced finely
Fresh chives for garnish

Layer in stemmed glasses: lettuce, crab meat, cucumber, tomatoes, green onion and celery.

Top with Thousand island dressing, dust with paprika, add chives and serve as a salad course for an elegant dinner party or serve in a large bowl for a luncheon with wedges of hard-boiled eggs, julienned green bell peppers, sliced black olives and fresh French bread.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Italian Sausage and Cabbage Casserole

Last Friday, I was hungry for either stuffed green bell peppers or cabbage rolls.  I couldn't make up my mind which I'd rather have.  I decided I'd make a casserole combining the best of both worlds.

This was more delicious than I could have imagined.  It makes wonderful leftovers as well.

1 1/2 lb. Italian sausage (mild or hot) removed from casings
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 large green bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 T. chopped garlic
1/2 t. fennel seeds, crushed
1 t. dried oregano
1 t. dried basil
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. red pepper flakes
1 15 oz. diced tomatoes (roasted garlic flavor)
24 oz. tomato sauce (with Italian herbs)
1 cup water
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup raw rice
4 - 5 cups shredded green cabbage

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9 x 13 inch baking dish with nonstick spray.

In a 5 quart Dutch oven, over medium high heat, brown sausage and drain.

Add onion and bell pepper and let cook until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 - 6 minutes.  Add garlic and seasonings.  Stir to combine with the sausage and vegetables and let cook 1 minute.

Next add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, beans, rice and cabbage. 

Continue stirring until all ingredients are combined and spoon into casserole dish.

Cover with foil and let cook 1 - 1 1/2 hours until rice is completely cooked.  

Top with grated Parmesan if desired.

Valentine's M & M Brownies

Bake your favorite brownie mix (either by scratch or store bought) and mix in about half a cup of cherry flavored M & Ms.  After brownies have cooled, cut into squares and top with additional M & Ms and whipped cream!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Thai Green Salad with Cilantro & Mint Dressing

Isn't this salad lovely?  I love the vibrant colors and the vibrant flavors as well. For all of you cilantro haters, and I know you're out there, skip over this recipe. For all of you cilantro lovers, enjoy this wonderful salad!

1 bunch Roman lettuce, leaves separated, hard stem removed and lightly torn
1 seedless cucumber, ends trimmed and sliced lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
2 green onions, thinly sliced on the diagonal, white and green parts
a touch of kosher salt
a light grind of black pepper

Toss all salad ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to dress and serve.

Cilantro & Mint Dressing:

1 cup olive oil
4 T. rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, packed, hard stems discarded
1/2 cup chopped mint, packed, hard stems discarded
1 – 2 t. red pepper flakes (depending on how much heat you want!)
½ T. salt
2 T. water

 Combine all above ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth and emulsified, at least 3 minutes.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Shake well before serving.

Beef Satay with Peanut Dipping Sauce

Looking to add a little culinary excitement to your life? For some people the ingredients in this recipe will be foreign and not staples of their pantry. For others, you will cook with these ingredients on a regular basis. A plus for this version of Beef Satay is that can be grilled outdoors or cooked indoors. 

Remember to read through the recipe before you begin and decide if you want to use LESS of the seasonings to being with before you proceed with the recipe. You can always add more heat, but taking away the heat is a little more trickier!

1 ½ lbs. beef steak, cut into 1 inch chunks

¼ cup minced or ready-prepared lemongrass
2 shallots, sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 or 2 fresh red chilies, sliced, OR 1/2 t. to 1 t. cayenne pepper, to taste
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, thinly sliced
½ t. turmeric
2 T. ground coriander
2 t. cumin
3 T. dark soy sauce
4 T. fish sauce
5 - 6 T. brown sugar
2 T. coconut oil OR vegetable oil
1/8 t. cardamom

If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while you prepare the meat (to prevent burning). The kitchen sink works well for this.

Place all 'marinade' ingredients in a food processor, large chopper, or blender. Process well.

Taste the marinade. The strongest tastes should be sweet and salt in order for the finished satay to taste its best. Add more sugar or more fish sauce (in place of salt) to adjust the taste. You can also add more chili if you want it spicier.

Place beef in a covered bowl for marinating. Pour the marinade over and stir well to combine. Allow at least 1 hour for marinating, or longer (up to 24 hours).

When ready to cook, thread meat onto the skewers. Tip: Fill up to 3/4 of the skewer, leaving the lower half empty so the person grilling has a "handle" to easily turn the satay.

Grill the satay on an outdoor grill, basting the first time you time it with a little of the leftover marinade from the bottom of the bowl. 

To cook satay indoors: Place satay on a broiling pan or baking sheet covered with tin foil. Set oven to "broil" and place satay close beneath the heating element (second-to-top rung works well). Turn the satay every 5 to 6 minutes until done to your liking (15 to 25 minutes).

Peanut Dipping Sauce:

1 cup fresh-tasting dry roasted peanuts, unsalted
1/3 cup water
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
½ t. dark soy sauce
2 t. sesame oil
2 T. brown sugar
1 - 2 T. fish sauce or regular soy sauce
½ T. lime juice
½ t. cayenne pepper OR 1 t. Thai chili sauce (more or less to taste)
1/3 cup coconut milk
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend or process until sauce is smooth. If you prefer a runnier peanut sauce, add a little more water or coconut milk.
Do a taste test, adding more fish sauce (or soy sauce) if not salty enough, or more cayenne if not spicy enough. If too salty, add a squeeze of fresh lime juice. If you'd prefer it sweeter, add a little more sugar.

Note: This sauce tends to thicken as it sits - just add a little water or coconut milk to thin it out, as needed. Otherwise it stores well if kept covered in the refrigerator (keep up to 2 weeks; freeze thereafter).

Thank you to www.thaifood.about.com

Thai Styled Corn Fritters with Red Chile Relish

When you have fresh corn kernels, this is a great appetizer to serve to family or guests.  You can also use canned corn, rinsed, well drained, and patted dry.  As always, adjust the heat level to your liking and taste.

2 cups corn kernels
¼ cup cornmeal
¼ cup flour
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T. green curry paste (or red curry paste)
1 green onion, chopped
1 handful Thai Basil, leaves stacked, rolled tightly and thinly sliced
1 birds eye chili, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you want less heat)
1 T. fish sauce
1 T. lime juice
4 T. oil
1/2 cup sweet chili sauce

Mix the corn, corn meal, flour, egg, curry paste, green onion, basil, chili, fish sauce and lime juice in a bowl.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat.

Spoon the corn mixture very gently into the skillet to form patties and cook until golden brown on both sides, about 2 - 4 minutes per side.  Turn them carefully!

Drain on wire racks instead of paper towels so they remain crunchy.

Serve with sweet chili sauce.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Caramelized Onion Beef Stew with Vegetables

Another delicious meal that simmered all day long in the crock pot.  I wanted to change up my tried and true beef stew recipe a tad, so for this batch, instead of using my regular 2 yellow onions, I used a jar of my home canned Caramelized Onion Jam.  The recipe is found here.

1 1/2 lbs. lean beef tips
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 T. oil
4 cups beef stock
8 oz. Caramelized Onion Jam
1 bay leaf
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 ribs celery, trimmed and chopped
1 yellow onion, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced
3 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 T. Worcestershire Sauce
1 t. seasoned salt
1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Salt and pepper the beef tips.

In a large skillet, over high heat, add oil.  When the oil shimmers, add the beef tips, dividing into batches.  Let the beef tips sear and when browned, add that batch to the crock pot.  Continue until all beef tips are seared.

Add the beef stock and next 8 ingredients.  Stir well to combine.  

Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  Add peas during last hour of cooking time.  

Taste and adjust seasonings if needed.  Remove bay leaf before serving.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Winter Mixed Lettuce Salad with Herbes de Provence Vinaigrette

The winter mixed lettuce crop continues to produce delicious and beautiful greens.  Just look!

Now to make the vinaigrette!

1 shallot, finely chopped
1 t. finely chopped garlic
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
freshly ground black pepper
1 T. honey
2 t. whole grain Dijon mustard
1 t. Herbes de Provence 
1 cup olive oil

In a small bowl, add shallot and garlic and pour in lemon juice. Let sit for at least 10 minutes. The lemon juice helps cut the sharpness of the raw shallot and garlic.

Add about 1/2 t. salt and 1/2 t. pepper. Stir in the honey, mustard and Herbes de Provence.  

Slowly pour in olive oil, whisking continuously, until dressing is emulsified. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Drizzle over greens when ready to serve.

Lolly's Cornbread - Redux

My signature cornbread recipe never changes.  So, therefore, I will repeat word for word my previous cornbread post.  Please give it a try and let me know what you think. 

There are hundreds of recipes for cornbread.  Some contain flour, some have sugar, some add eggs or oil.

Take a deep breath before you read any further.  Here is Lolly's Secret Recipe for cornbread.  Are you ready?

2 cups of self-rising white cornmeal
2 cups buttermilk
2 T. bacon grease

Yes, that's it.  That's the entire recipe.  

I won 1st Place in every 4-H Bread Competition I entered in elementary and junior high school.  I bet you didn't know that, did you?  I decided if the recipe wasn't broken, I wouldn't try to fix it.  

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  

In a medium mixing bowl, add cornmeal and then slowly stir in buttermilk until it's well blended.  

Put the bacon grease in a cast iron skillet and heat it over medium heat until a drop of the batter sizzles.

Pour the batter into the skillet and bake until golden brown about 20 - 25 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest in skillet for a few minutes before turning out onto a serving plate.

Chicken, Sausage & Potato Bake

Last night I played around with one of my favorite recipes Chicken Grande.  I added potatoes to this version and simmered the garlic cloves for a few minutes before browning the chicken in the garlic infused oil.  Oh yes.  You can use your favorite pieces of chicken, but last night I used drumsticks and boneless/skinless thighs.  Of course, I only use Conecuh Sausage in my recipes calling for smoked sausage.  That is an uncompensated endorsement.  I simply love the flavor and texture of Conecuh.

1 1/2 lbs. chicken (your choice of pieces)
1 lb. Conecuh  Sausage, sliced into 2 or 3 inch pieces (or your favorite brand)
1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and separated
3 T. olive oil
salt and pepper
4 T. butter
1/2 cup white wine or chicken broth
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into 1 inch cubes
rosemary sprigs

In a small saucepan, bring olive oil to a simmer.  Drop garlic cloves into oil and turn off heat.  The garlic cloves will infuse the oil with wonderful flavor.

Pour garlic oil into a large skillet and reserve garlic cloves.  Heat oil over medium high heat and add sausage.  Cook sausage until well browned and place in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Next, salt and pepper the chicken and brown the chicken a few pieces at a time.  As chicken reaches a beautiful golden brown, add those pieces to the baking dish as well.  Repeat until all chicken is browned.  Add the reserved garlic cloves to the dish along with the chopped potatoes.

Over high heat, melt the butter and the wine.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up all browned bits and then pour the butter/wine sauce over the chicken, sausage and potatoes.  Place rosemary sprigs on top and cover with foil.

Bake at 375 degrees for 35 - 40 minutes.  Remove foil and let cook for another 5 or 10 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned.

Serve immediately.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Hashbrown, Ham, Egg & Cheese Skillet Breakfast

Here's a very easy to assemble skillet breakfast that can either be served in the skillet sizzling hot as shown above or lifted out with a spatula and flipped over onto a serving plate as shown below.

Here's the recipe for 1 individual skillet breakfast.  I cooked two at a time and start to finish these were ready to enjoy in about 15 minutes.

1 T. vegetable oil
1/2 cup grated potato
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup diced ham
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

Heat vegetable oil in 6 inch iron skillet over high heat.

Gently press grated potato into skillet and lower heat to medium.  Salt and pepper the potatoes. Let potatoes brown and using a thin spatula, carefully flip potatoes over and let brown on the other side.

Top with ham (don't stir!) and let cook for a few more minutes.

Gently pour the eggs over the potatoes and ham.  Turn heat down to medium low.  Allow the eggs to cook until bubbles are coming up through the potatoes and ham. 

Turn broiler on high.  

When the eggs have cooked firm around the edges, top with grated cheese.

Place skillet under broiler until cheese is brown and bubbly.  Remove from oven and either serve in the skillet or on serving plate.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Crawfish and Shrimp Enchiladas

This dish is  based on Paul Prudhomme's recipe. When I realized that he had used 8 cups of cheese, yes 8 cups of cheese, I knew I'd have to adjust that some. Instead of all crawfish, I decided to go with half crawfish/half shrimp. This is a wonderful comforting meal. 

1 stick butter (divided)
1 cup finely chopped onions
1 cup canned diced green chilies, drained
3/4 cup diced bell peppers
2 t. white pepper
1 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
3/4 t. dried Mexican oregano
1/2 t. minced garlic
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
2 1/2 cups shredded Mexican cheese (divided)
2 pounds crawfish
1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
2/3 very finely chopped green onions
6 inch flour tortillas

In a large skillet, melt 1/2 stick of butter. Add the onions, green chilies, bell peppers, salt to taste, 1 t. white pepper, 1/2 t. of the red pepper, 1/4 t. of the oregano and the garlic. Sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Stir in the heavy cream and bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the sour cream and mix well until dissolved, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a medium skillet, melt the remaining butter. Add the crawfish, shrimp, 1 t. white pepper, 1 t. cayenne and 1/2 t. oregano.

Sauté over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 cups of the cheese and stir well. Simmer until the flavors are well blended about 10 minutes. 

Spray a 13 x 9 baking dish with non-stick spray and spread about 1/4 cup of the crawfish mixture evenly on bottom of the dish. With one tortilla at a time, spoon about 1/4 cup of the mixture onto tortillas and roll tightly. Place seam side down in dish. I got 8 enchiladas in mine. Top the enchiladas with remaining 1/2 cup shredded cheese and about 1/2 cup of the crawfish mixture.  

Cover with foil and bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. The remaining filling can be used for additional enchiladas or serve over rice or pasta.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Zatarain's Creole Mustard Potato Salad

If you like your potato salad with a big mustard flavor, you will enjoy this version.  Served as a side dish for a Mardi Gras meal, the Zatarain's Creole Mustard was a given.  The use of Yukon Gold potatoes lends a gorgeous golden color to this salad.

3 lbs. Yukon Gold potatoes, cut into large cubes, simmered in salted water until tender and drained
3 boiled eggs, roughly chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup (or more!) Zatarain's Creole Mustard
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup dill or sweet pickle relish
chopped parsley for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise and mustard.  Stir in bell pepper and pickle relish until well combined.

Fold in potato cubes and chopped boiled eggs.  Taste to determine if you need to add a little salt.  The mayo, mustard and pickles will ALL contain salt remember!

Spoon into a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped parsley.

Chicken and Sausage Jambalaya

Doesn't that look delicious?  Chicken, sausage, vegetables and rice cooked in a big cast iron Dutch oven.  There are two main types of jambalaya: with tomatoes (red) and without (brown).  This is a brown version.

I adapted this recipe from Chef John Folse.  His recipe included sliced mushrooms.  You may certainly add a cup of those if you wish.

3 pounds cubed chicken
2 pounds smoked sausage, sliced
¼ cup shortening or bacon drippings
2 cups yellow onions, diced
2 cups celery, diced
1 cup green bell peppers, diced
½ cup minced garlic
8 chicken stock
1 cup sliced green onions
½ cup chopped parsley
salt and cayenne pepper to taste
Louisiana style hot sauce, to taste
5 cups uncooked long grain rice
In a 7 quart cast iron Dutch oven, heat shortening or bacon drippings over medium high heat. Sauté cubed chicken 30 minutes or until dark brown on all sides and beginning to stick to bottom of pot. This process is important because jambalaya's brown color is derived from the color of the meat. Add smoked sausage and stir fry 10-15 minutes. Tilt pot to one side and ladle out all oil, except 1 large cooking spoonful.

Add onions, celery, bell peppers and garlic. Continue cooking until all vegetables are well caramelized, being careful not to scorch them.

Pour in stock, bring to a rolling boil then reduce heat to simmer. Cook 15 minutes to allow flavors to develop. Stir in green onions and parsley.

Season with salt, cayenne pepper and hot sauce. If desired, slightly over-season dish since rice has not yet been added. Add rice, reduce heat to low, cover and cook 30-45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes. Do not uncover except to stir.

Adapted from Chef John Folse’s version.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Coconut Cream Pie

Cream pies are custard pies which are thickened with either corn starch or flour and then topped with whipped cream.  Always remember to add the thickening agent to the cold liquid ingredients first.  If cornstarch or flour are added to hot ingredients they can lump and that's not a good thing.

Make sure once you have all the ingredients hot to bring to a boil and allow to boil for at least one minute.  That will allow the thickening agent to reach its full potential to thicken the filling of the pie.

If the recipe says to cool the filling before adding the topping, cover with plastic wrap and press it gently against the surface to keep "skin" from forming on top as it cools.

Make sure the cream pie is completely cool before slicing.  If not, you run a huge risk of the filling running all over the place.  That is not a good thing either.

1 refrigerated pie crust (or homemade if you are so inclined)
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 cups half and half
4 egg yolks
3 T. butter
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 1/2 t. vanilla extract, divided
2 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar

Garnish with toasted coconut if desired.

Fit pie crust into a 9 inch pie plate; fold edges under and crimp.  Prick bottom and sides of pie crust with a fork.  Bake according to package directions.

Combine 1/2 cup sugar and cornstarch in a large heavy saucepan.  Whisk together half and half and egg yolks.  Gradually whisk egg mixture into sugar mixture; bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly.  Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.

Stir in butter, 1 cup coconut, and 1 t. vanilla.  Cover with plastic wrap, placing wrap directly on filling; let stand 30 minutes.  Spoon custard filing into prepared crust; cover and chill 30 minutes or until set.

Beat whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixter until foamy; gradually add 1/3 cup sugar and remaining 1 1/2 t. vanilla, beating until soft peaks form.

Spread or pipe whipped cream over pie filing.

Garnish, if desired.

From The Southern Living Cooking:  1,250 Recipes for Everyday Cooking

Tex-Mex Chicken and Vegetable Stew with Cumin, Coriander & Cilantro Dumplings

Chicken and dumplings is one of my all time favorite comfort foods.  If a certain food could be a security blanket, chicken and dumplings would rate 10/10 for me.  But today I began to think about adding a different flavor profile to my regular recipe.  This is one of those that the more I thought about it, the more sense it made!  Here is the end result:  a thick stew full of Tex-Mex flavors, vegetables and a very unique dumpling.  If you don't care for cilantro, no problem.  Simply leave out the cilantro.  

3 lbs. bone in chicken breasts
3 quarts chicken broth 
1/2 t. salt
2 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 carrots, sliced lengthwise and chopped
1 T. chopped garlic
1 T. self-rising flour
2 t. ground cumin
2 t. ground coriander
2 T. Tome's Southwest Chipotle Seasoning
1 (15 oz.) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can Mexicorn, drained
1 can Rotel tomatoes (your choice of flavor/heat)

For the dumplings:
2 cups self-rising flour
2/3 cup whole milk
1/4 cup shortening
1 T. finely chopped cilantro
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander

lime zest and additional chopped cilantro for garnish

In a large Dutch oven, add the chicken, chicken broth, and salt.  Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  When the chicken is cooked through, about an hour or so depending on the size of the breasts, remove the chicken from the broth and set aside until cooled.

In a large skillet over medium high heat, melt butter.  Add onions, bell pepper, and carrots.  Sprinkle with a little salt and let vegetables saute until they begin to soften, 5 - 6 minutes.  Add garlic and cook 1 minute.  Sprinkle flour over the vegetables and let cook 2 - 3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the vegetable mixture to the broth and bring to a gentle simmer.  Stir in seasonings, beans, corn and Rotels.  Let cook, partially covered, for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

When chicken has cooled, remove skin and discard.  Take chicken from the bone and gently shred meat with your fingers.  Add shredded chicken to the stew and stir to combine.

Now to make the dumplings:
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and shortening.  Using two knives or a pastry cutter, cut shortening into flour until it resembles small pebbles.  Slowly pour in milk and stir to combine.  Fold in cilantro and seasonings.

Sprinkle a little flour on a cutting board of a piece of parchment paper.  Carefully pat off the dough with your hands until it is about 1/4 inch thick.  With a sharp knife cut dough into 1 inch squares.

Slowly drop the squares of dough into the simmer stew.  DO NOT STIR. Stirring will cause the dumplings to fall apart.  Continue adding the squares of dough until all are in the pot.  Cover and let simmer for 10 - 15 minutes until the dumplings are cooked through.  About halfway through you can very carefully stir to make sure that none of the chicken is sticking on the bottom.

Ladle into bowls and garnish with lime zest or additional cilantro.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Eggs Benedict served over Fried Green Tomatoes and Grilled Jalapeno Grit Cake

We absolutely fell in love with the Baked Jalapeno Cheese Grits .  The remainder chilled in the refrigerator overnight and were very easy to slice when cold.  I heated a little oil on the cast iron grill pan and then lightly browned the "grit cake."  That last green tomato that was sitting forlornly in the window sill?  I had to fry it with a cornmeal batter.  Then within minutes the hollandaise sauce was mixed in the blender and the egg was poached in about 3 minutes.  This beautiful breakfast was ready in about 15 minutes.  And it was absolutely delicious.  

I'll break down each step as we go.

Grit Cake:
After allowing the grits to chill overnight, cut a 3 x 4 inch rectangle (approximate size).  In a cast iron skillet, heat 1 t. oil.  When the oil gets hot, carefully place the grit cake in the skillet and let brown for 2 - 3 minutes.  Carefully turn the grit cake and brown the other side for the same time.  Remove from skillet and set aside.

Fried Green Tomato Slices:
Wash the tomato and trim ends.  Slice into 1/4 inch slices.  Dredge in a cornmeal mixed with a little salt and pepper.  Add a little more oil into the skillet and fry the tomato slices until golden brown on both sides.  Let drain on a paper towel lined plate.

Poached Egg:
Break the egg into a small bowl or ramekin.  Bring about 3 inches of water to a gentle simmer in a medium sauce pan.  Add 1 t. white vinegar to the water.  Gently pour the egg into the simmering water and using a spatula, swirl the water around to help the whites wrap around the yolk.  Let the egg cook for 3 - 4 minutes.  You will want the white to be cooked through and the yolk to remain running.  When the white is cooked, carefully remove from water and let egg drain on a paper towel lined saucer.

Hollandaise Sauce:
Melt one half stick butter.  Break an egg and separate the yolk from the white.  You will only use the yolk.

In a blender, add the egg yolk, 1 1/2 t. fresh lemon juice and 1/8 t. of cayenne pepper.  Pulse the blender a few times to combine those ingredients.

With the blender running on low speed, slowly pour in the melted butter.  The sauce will begin to emulsify (or thicken).  When all the butter has been added and the sauce has thickened add a little sauce and pulse to combine.  

Now it's time to assemble!  Place the grilled grit cake on a plate, top with the fried green tomato slices and the poached egg.  Drizzle the sauce over the top and add a few grinds of black pepper.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Lazy Day Beef Short Ribs

I named these Lazy Day Beef Short Ribs because they are the perfect thing to put in the oven and let cook for hours while you tend to other things. They would also cook just fine in your crock pot all day.

The mixture of wine, beef stock and the wonderful aromatics create such a delicious dish. The longer it simmers in the oven, the better your kitchen will smell!

4 pounds beef short ribs
1 t. dried thyme
2 t. granulated garlic
1 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. salt
1 t. ground coriander
2. t. ground cumin
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 bay leaves
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped celery
2 T. chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
1 1/2 cups beef stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine thyme, garlic, black pepper, salt, coriander, and cumin. Toss with the short ribs in a large bowl and arrange the ribs in a large Dutch oven.

Spread the onions, carrots, celery, and garlic over the meat. Add rosemary sprigs and bay leaves.

Pour in the red wine and stock and cover. Bake for 1 hour.

Remove the lid, stir so that most of the meat is on top of the vegetables and bake, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Stir and turn the shit ribs to help everything brown evenly. Check to make sure there is still liquid in the pot. If not, add more wine or stock. Replace lid and bake for 30 minutes more or until the meat is fork tender. If not tender, continue to cook, covered, checking every 20 minutes.

Remove the meat and arrange on a platter. Discard the bay leaves and rosemary sprigs. Degrease the sauce. Boil the sauce to reduce if it's too thin. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetables and sauce over the meat and serve.

I served mine over jalapeno cheese grits.

Adapted from the Great Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells

Baked Jalapeno Cheese Grits

Oh, grits.  They're not just for breakfast anymore.  With the addition of two different cheeses, onions, bell peppers and jalapenos, this is a great savory version that can replace potatoes, rice or pasta as a side dish for your main course dinner meals.  

1 (32 oz.) container of chicken broth
1 3/4 cup quick cooking grits, uncooked
1/2 cup butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
5 large eggs, lightly beaten 
1/4 t. salt

Bring broth to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in grits. Reduce heat, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Cover and remove from heat.

Melt butter in a large skillet; add chopped onion and next 3 ingredients, and saute 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in grits, Cheddar cheese and remaining ingredients.

Pour in a lightly greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish.

Bake, covered, at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until set; serve immediately.

From The Southern Living Cookbook:  1,250 Recipes for Everyday Cooking

Friday, January 9, 2015

Woman's Day $5,000 Home Makeover Contest!

Enter for a chance to win a $5,000 Home Makeover + Qualify for great offers and 85% off Woman's Day Magazine - 12 Issues for $5! Plus get 12 issues of Good Housekeeping for only $5 More! 

Turnip Greens with Spicy Squash Relish

Here is the "greens" portion of our New Year's Day meal.  Turnip greens picked fresh from a friend's garden and brought home to be washed and trimmed and put directly into the cooking pot.  You can't beat that for freshness!

Topped with my home canned Spicy Squash Relish (recipe found here) that was the turnip greens crowning glory!

12 cups of packed, washed, and trimmed turnip greens
3 cups chicken broth
For seasoning you can choose from the following or use a little of each:  chopped bacon, bacon grease, or smoked ham hock

Put all ingredients in a medium sized Dutch oven.  Bring to a boil and then reduce heat so you have a gentle simmer.  Cover and let simmer for a few hours, stirring occasionally.  Add additional liquid as needed.  Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Elvis! Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich with Bacon

In honor of Elvis' 80th Birthday, how better to celebrate than duplicating one of his most favorite dishes? It's well known how much he loved grilled peanut butter and banana sandwiches.....and bacon.  The picture above shows more of the beautifully browned bread....the picture below the recipe shows more of the yummy goodness inside the sandwich.  I promise if you cook this one for your sweetie, you will not spend any time in "Heartbreak Hotel."  See what I did there?  

2 slices thick sliced bread
A few tablespoons of creamy peanut butter
1 banana, sliced
4 sliced cooked bacon
2 T. unsalted butter

Spread peanut butter on each slice of bread. Place banana slices on top of one piece of the bread and then place the bacon slices on top of the banana slices.  Top with the other slice of bread, peanut butter side down.

Gently butter the upper slice of bread.  In a medium skillet over medium high heat, place sandwich butter side down.  Let the sandwich cook for 1 - 2 minutes until the bread is nicely browned.  Gently flip the sandwich over and let the other side cook until it reaches a nice, crunchy brown.  Serve immediately.

Mini Muffuletta Sliders

You may not be familiar with exactly what makes this sandwich a muffuletta? The original muffuletta was first served at Central Grocery in New Orleans, Louisiana.  Not only does the bread set the sandwich apart, but the olive salad is a MUST.  You can either purchase ready-made olive salad or make your own.  

A muffuletta is a large, round, and somewhat flattened loaf with a sturdy texture, around 10 inches across. It's a little like focaccia, but is very light and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  For these sliders, I used a small, semi-hard roll, split and brushed on the inside with olive oil.  

A traditional style muffuletta sandwich consists of a muffuletta loaf split horizontally and covered with layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone. The sandwich is sometimes heated to soften the provolone. But most muffuletta purists DO NOT heat theirs.  Quarter, half, and full-sized muffulettas are sold.

The signature olive salad consists of olives diced with the celery, cauliflower and carrot found in a jar of giardiniera, seasoned with oregano and garlic, covered in olive oil, and allowed to combine for at least 24 hours.

When planning a Mardi Gras party, I thought that individual muffulettas would be easier to serve/eat than the very large sandwiches even when quartered.  

We made an assembly line of the meats and cheese and used a biscuit cutter a little smaller than the rolls to cut out the fillings so they would all be uniform.  A layer of olive salad on the bottom, meat, cheese, meat, cheese and more olive salad and the top layer of the roll.  Ta-Da!  Mini-Muffuletta Sliders.  These were a hit.

Fried Shrimp Po'Boys with Rémoulade Sauce

Sometimes you just want a po'boy.  For me it doesn't matter if it's shrimp, oyster or roast beef.  But for this particular Mardi Gras party, the crowd decided that shrimp was the way to go!  

And if you're ever visiting New Orleans and order a po'boy and they ask if you if you want your sandwich "dressed," that simply means do you want all the extras: lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, etc.  

I used Zatarain's Seasoned Shrimp Fri to batter and cook 2 lbs. of shrimp according to the package directions.  

I mixed up this quick remoulade sauce courtesy of Chef John Folse's for those who didn't want the mayo and spicy mustard

1 1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup Creole mustard
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. hot sauce
1/2 cup finely diced green onions
1/4 cup finely diced celery
2 T. minced garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
1/2 T. lemon juice
salt and cracked black pepper to taste

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk well.  Cover and place in refrigerator until ready to serve.  Overnight is best.  You'll need at least 4 hours for the flavors to incorporate.  When ready to serve, taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Chocolate Mousse with Vanilla Whipped Cream

Looking for a luscious chocolate dessert that is super easy?  Thanks for Betty Crocker for providing this recipe.

For the chocolate mousse:
1 pint (2 cups) heavy whipping cream, well chilled
10 to 12 oz. bittersweet baking chocolate (60% to 70% cacao), broken into small pieces


In large bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed just until stiff peaks form.

In double boiler or in bowl set over saucepan, melt chocolate over simmering water. Pour melted chocolate into whipped cream; fold chocolate into cream (do not overmix; mixture can have a few streaks). Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

For the vanilla whipped cream:
2 cups heavy whipping cream, well chilled
1 T. pure vanilla extract


In large bowl, beat whipping cream at medium speed just until stiff peaks form. Stir in the vanilla extract and refrigerated until serving time.