Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Friday, October 30, 2015

Lemon Pepper Salmon


I had some frozen salmon filets in the freezer.  I put them in the fridge to thaw yesterday morning before leaving for work.  They were thawed and ready to go last night.

With a few minute prep work and only FIVE MINUTES of cooking time, we had this lovely lemon pepper salmon over fresh green with a light vinaigrette.  YUM!  Yes, it tasted as great as it looks.


4 - 6 salmon filets (6 oz. each)
3 T. olive oil
3 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon pepper


For the salad:
3 - 4 cups of your favorite salad greens
3 T. olive oil
3 T. red wine vinegar
juice of one lemon
1/2 t. lemon pepper
1/4 t. salt
1 large clove garlic, pressed
2 t. Dijon mustard
2 small tomatoes, cut into thin wedges
1/2 red onion, sliced into very thin rings

In a medium bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, and lemon pepper. Add salmon and let it marinate while you make the salad.

Divide the salad greens onto plates. Divide the onions and tomatoes over the greens. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar and lemon juice. Add lemon pepper, salt, garlic, and Dijon mustard and whisk until well combined. Set aside.

Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium high heat. When a drop of the marinade sizzles, add the salmon and let cook for 4 minutes. Carefully, turn the salmon and let cook for 1 minute or so to let the other side brown well.   

Place the salmon over the greens and drizzle the salad dressing over the top.  Serve with lemon slices on the side, if desired.

Place the salmon over the salad greens



Thursday, October 29, 2015

Halloween 2015 - Kids' Table

Here's the photos of the little ones' table for this Halloween.  I hope you like them!








Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Steak Fajita Stew with Tortilla Dumplings


If you made the Steak and Vegetables Fajitas which I posted over the weekend and, if you have leftovers, here's a wonderful and easy Round Two meal.

With the fajitas I served black beans and yellow rice. There was about 3 cups of steak and vegetables remaining, so I chopped up the steak into bite sized pieces and start making the stew! Your well stocked pantry hopefully will have some whole tomatoes, beef stock, canned corn and Rotel tomatoes.....

Here's the list of my ingredients (including the amount of leftovers which I added):

32 oz. whole tomatoes (I used a quart of those I canned this summer)
32 oz. beef stock
1 can original Rotel tomatoes
3 T. tomato paste
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
2 cups black beans
2 - 3 cups of steak and vegetables left over from fajitas
1 cup yellow rice (cooked)
3 tortillas cut into thin strips

In a large Dutch oven, add all ingredients except for tortillas. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Stirring occasionally, let tomatoes break down and allow stew to thicken, about 20 minutes or so. 

Slowly drop strips of tortillas into stew and let them cook 5 minutes or so until they are cooked through.  Serve immediately.




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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Steak and Vegetable Fajitas


We hadn't had fajitas in a LONG time. In fact, it's been so long neither of us could remember when the last time was.....so a drizzly, Fall Sunday afternoon seemed like the perfect time.

Early that morning, I mixed up a marinade and added the steak and vegetables. We went about our day of going out to buy pumpkins, mums and pansies for the front porch for the Fall season. Meanwhile, back in the fridge, magic was happening.

Here's the marinade recipe:

1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground coriander

Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Now pour into a gallon size Ziploc bag. OR you could use a marinading box similar to this one. I have one almost like this and it works great.

Now you need to add the following to the marinade:
1 lb. skirt or flank steak, thinly sliced against the grain (some groceries have prepackaged fajita steak ready to go!)
2 medium yellow onions, peeled and cut into thin wedges
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 jalapenos, seeded or not depending on how much heat you want, thinly sliced

Place in refrigerator for several hours.

Now let's cook.

Place a large cast iron skillet over high heat until skillet is HOT. Make sure you use a handle cover or pot holder on the handle. You don't want to grab that handle by mistake.

Using tongs, begin by placing several strips of steak into the skillet at time. You want a great sear on the steak strips. Add a little of the marinading liquid, a few tablespoons, at a time. Remove the steak when it reaches medium well, and add the remaining steak and marinade a few pieces at a time until all the steak is seared.



Reduce heat to medium high.

Now add the vegetables and remaining marinade. You only want to cook the vegetables JUST until they begin to soften. Stir often so all the vegetables get their turn against the hot skillet. No one wants mushy vegetables in their fajitas.


I chopped up three medium Roma tomatoes and add them at the last minute or so of cooking. Cook them only until they start releasing their juices and get hot.


Remove from heat and load up warmed tortillas with this delicious goodness. Your favorite toppings (salsa, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc.) are optional because trust me, there is a TON of flavor right here. 


Monday, October 26, 2015

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An Evening with Edgar


This year's Halloween dinner will be "An Evening with Edgar" Allan Poe. Each portion of the menu will be based on one of his works. I have spent a LOT of time on this table setting. This one was definitely a labor of love, because the more things that came to mind, it seems that led down different paths to complete the theme even more. Of course, candlelight dining is a must for this meal.

Let's start with my place setting. The dinner plates were a great find on eBay. The square silver chargers and personal soup tureens/saucers were purchased at Old Time Pottery. I have collected inkwells for years so each place setting has their own personalized ink well with a quill from Hobby Lobby. The crystal martini/water/wine glasses are in regular rotation for our meals. I've had those for years. The port glasses were estate sale finds. The silver spoon and fork were estate sale purchases as well.


The Dollar Tree provided MANY ravens that are perched here and there. These four decided they wanted to be able to get a "bird's eye view" of the diners.


And here is a close up of the ink well place setting marker. I used a vintage handwriting font to print these on the computer on parchment style paper.


Hobby Lobby had these gorgeous HEAVY wooden ravens.


See the raven peaking around the birdcage while he stops to rest on the two white mini pumpkins? The metal birdcage is from Hobby Lobby and the miniature raven is from Dollar Tree. The glass cloche was found at an antique mall. The red heart is a Christmas ornament I've had for over 30 years.


A close up shot of the birdcage. Did I mention the wee little raven is motion activated. He has no problem giving loud CAWS every time he picks up any movement in the room.


And here's the timid raven...


And the cloche...


Now here is the section of the table where I had the most fun. One of my antique silver trays holds all sorts of "Poe worthy" goodies. An elaborate black 5 x 7 frame from Hobby Lobby is the perfect setting for a computer printed picture of Mr. Poe. Another antique ink well with a gorgeous midnight black plumed quill (Hobby Lobby) placed beside a parchment note addressed to "Lenore." Poe loved to play chess so a couple of chess pieces were added. The hour glass is from World Market and the Galileo thermometer has been around my house for years.


Now a picture without the flash, taken solely by candlelight.



Now here we are at the table where the food will be served. The black and dark purple flowers were purchased at Old Time Pottery and Dollar Tree. 


This antique silver tray will hold a selection of cured meats for our appetizer portion of the meal. If you've not read the Pit and the Pendulum you need to do so to understand the significance of the black rats waiting patiently at the tray.




The antique typewriter has been stored in my garage. A downloaded antique typewriter font was used to type out the menu.



Another printed photo of Mr. Poe with many of the titles of his most famous works written in the background.  A few of Harold's antique corkscrews were added to the table along with two wooden Black Cats!


Please take a few moments and let me know how you like this one!

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Dylan's Shrimp & Ramen Salad with Sriracha & Ranch Dressing


A friend of mine approached me a few weeks ago with an idea. A deliciously, interesting idea. As he explained it to me, he was eating chicken tenders with ranch dressing. Then, the epiphany occurred. He mixed Sriracha into the ranch dressing. He wondered if I could come up with a dish which included the spicy dressing.  Challenge accepted!  Instead of a pasta salad with noodles, this is the Asian version made with Ramen noodles and all sorts of textures and flavors.  

For the salad:
3 packages of shrimp flavored Ramen noodles (seasoning packets reserved)
1 cup tiny frozen green peas, thawed
1/2 cup julienned carrots
3 green onions, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
1 cup diced cooked shrimp
1/3 cup diced water chestnuts
2 t. black sesame seeds, divided
1/4 cup slivered almonds

For the dressing:
1 cup Ranch dressing
1/4 cup Sriracha (if you'd like it spicier, 1/2 cup Ranch  - 1/2 cup Sriracha)
2 t. rice wine vinegar
2 - 3 of the seasoning packets (start with 2, taste and decide whether you want to add the third one)

Whisk together the dressing ingredients and set aside.

Boil the Ramen according to package directions. It's helpful if you break the noodles into sections before adding to the water. When the noodles are cooked, pour into a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients (remember only 1 t. of the sesame seeds) and stir to combine.

Slowly pour dressing over salad and mix well until the salad is coated well with the dressing.  Refrigerate until ready to serve then top with remaining 1 t. of sesame seeds.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Caldo


I will just go ahead and put it out there. This is the BEST soup ever. EVER. A friend gave me John Besh's cookbook My New Orleans. I will thank both Chef Tesh and my friend for giving the opportunity to make this delicious soupy stew tonight. Aren't the colors in that bowl GORGEOUS?

Now a little background on Caldo. The Isleños (Islanders) came to the marshlands of St. Bernard Parish in Southern Louisiana from the Canary Islands, off the coast of Morocco, over 200 years ago. They brought a version of the Spanish stew puchero, which they remained caldo and made with vegetables from the South Louisiana harvest.  Caldo is a slow-cooked soupy stew that always includes pork.

Instead of using ham hocks, I had a pound of sliced, smoked pork in the freezer, which I thawed and cubed.

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 large yellow onions, diced
1 bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ham hocks
2 cups lima beans
2 large handfuls mustard greens, chopped
1 cup diced whole tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 cup corn kernels
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
1 large handful of green beans, chopped
1 1/2 gallons chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 t. cayenne pepper
1/2 t. ground allspice
salt 
freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed pot over moderate heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, celery, and garlic and cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.

Add the ham hocks (or the cubed smoked pork), lima beans, mustard greens, tomatoes, corn, sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, and green beans and mix with the cooked vegetables.

Add the chicken stock, bay leaves, cayenne, and allspice. Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer the caldo until all the vegetables are soft and the ham hocks are tender, about 1 1/2 hours.

Season with the salt and pepper. If you're using the ham hocks, remove from the soup, shred the meat,and return it to the soup. Serve it up in bowls.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Lolly's Slow Cooker Chili


Fall is here and the morning temperatures have been in the mid-30's. That means it's Chili Season! This batch now qualifies as the best I've ever made. Lots of beef and beans and a moderate heat level made this one perfect. Until I make the next batch.  


When I snapped this picture, I honestly thought this would be my entire ingredient list. Well, almost. As the cooking progressed, of course, there were some additions.  Namely, tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. The Worcestershire added the perfect touch.

2 lbs. ground chuck
1 T. olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 red jalapeno, diced (optional)
2 small green jalapenos, diced (optional)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 envelopes Pioneer chili seasoning
1 quart whole tomatoes
1 can original Rotel tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can chili beans
3 T. tomato paste
2 T. Worcestershire Sauce

In a large skillet, add olive oil and ground chuck and set heat to medium high. Add onions, bell peppers, and jalapenos. Break meat up with a large spoon and, stirring occasionally, let meat brown and vegetables soften, 10 - 12 minutes. Add garlic during the last minute or so.



Add chili seasoning mix and stir until completely behind. Remove from heat.


While meat is cooking, turn slow cooker to high and add tomatoes and beans.


Next add the meat and vegetables to the tomatoes and beans.  Now's the time to add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce and stir to combine.


Cover and let cook for 3 - 4 hours on high or 4 - 5 hours on low. And look what a wonderful meal you have prepared!


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Pork a la Bordelaise


A bordelaise sauce uses red or white wine as the base. This recipe is classic comfort food: a slow cooked pork shoulder, white wine, chicken stock, baby portabella mushrooms cooked all day in your slow cooker.  After the pork is cooked, take about 30 minutes to add the peppers and shred the pork and then take 5 minutes to make the gravy. I opened a can of green beans, drained them and reheated them with a little chicken stock. Served over mashed potatoes this was a wonderful, hunger satisfying meal.

1 bone in pork shoulder roast (3 - 4 lbs.) seasoned with salt and pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup dry white wine

1 large sweet onion, cut into wedges
2 T. minced fresh garlic
8 oz. baby portabella mushrooms
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/2 cup each white wine and chicken stock
2 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 cup each red and yellow bell pepper strips

2 T. unsalted butter
3 T. all purpose flour
fresh rosemary

Sear roast in oil in a saute pan over medium high until browned on all sides, 10 - 12 minutes. Deglaze pan with 1/2 cup wine; reduce by half. 

Arrange onion, garlic, mushrooms, 3 sprigs of rosemary 1/2 cup wine, stock, and vinegar in the bottom of an 8 quart slow cooker; add roast and deglazing liquid. Cover slow cooker and cook roast until fork tender on high setting 3 - 4 hours or low setting, 4 - 5 hours.

Add bell peppers, increase heat to high, cover slow cooker, and cook until peppers soften, 30 minutes. Transfer roast and bell pepper to a platter and keep warm.

Strain slow cooker liquid through a colander into a bowl. Reserve mushroom mixture and discard rosemary. Degrease slow cooker liquid, reserve liquid.

Melt butter in a saute pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook 2 minutes. Add reserved slow cooker liquid and whisk constantly to break lumps. Add mushroom mixture to pan and bring sauce to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Season sauce with salt and black pepper, serve over roast and bell peppers, and garnish with fresh rosemary.



Adapted from Cuisine: Celebrate the Seasons

Creamy Bow Tie Pasta Salad with Artichoke Hearts


I was in the mood for a pasta salad. A trip to the pantry and the refrigerator for inspiration was in order! I had about a half box of mini-bow tie pasta (farfalle), a can of artichoke hearts and assorted vegetables. Then I had to make the important decision of creamy or oil based dressing.......

In a large bowl, mix together the following:

2 cups farfalle pasta (cooked according to package directions and drained)
3 - 5 canned artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 small green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 shallot, minced
3 Pepperoncini  peppers, stems removed, chopped

For the dressing:
4 - 5 T. mayonnaise
1 T. white wine vinegar
1 t. dried Italian seasoning
dash of salt and pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 t. red pepper flakes

In a mini food processor, add the dressing ingredients and pulse to combine and to mince the garlic. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Mix the dressing into the pasta salad and top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Refrigerate any leftovers and add a little mayo/vinegar the next time you serve.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Dining Out - Southeast - Seasons 52, Birmingham, AL

We selected Seasons 52 for our anniversary meal. A blurb from their webpage "Rotating menu of seasonal American dishes alongside international wines in an upscale setting." Here's the link to their website. Take a few moments and browse. if there's a Seasons 52 near you, please try to add it to your "have to try" list.  Seasons 52

They use in-season ingredients and prepare them with rustic techniques such as oak wood grilling and brick oven roasting. They offer a wide selection of flatbreads with numerous toppings. An entire portion of the menu is dedicated to the Chef's suggestions for the particular in-season ingredients they have on hand at any given time. The wine list is extensive.

The decor is dark, intimate and cozy. We never felt rushed and our server, Brandi, was perfect. She was very helpful with menu suggestions and her food delivery time was spot on.

After debating the cocktail selections, I chose the Pomegranate Margarita Martini. Made with 1800 Silver Tequila, Patrón Citrónge & Pomegranate Juice $11.90. This cocktail had the perfect union of tart and sweet. Just a lovely drink.


As soon as he saw the menu, Harold chose their version the Prairie Mule. Prairie Organic Vodka, Ginger Beer, Fresh Lime, served in a traditional copper mug $9.50. After the first sip, he knew to drink this one slowly! He loved it.


For our appetizer, I let him choose with no input from me. I wanted to see which one of the many listed he would pick. He chose very wisely with this one.

Lump Crab, Roasted Shrimp & Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms under a Parmesan-panko crust $9.50. Look closely.  Do you see those two shrimp intertwined on top? I thought the dish as a whole needed just a little more seasoning, but the combination of crab, spinach, mushroom, and shrimp was delicious. The shrimp were not overcooked. I'd like to try to make these at home.


And now on to the salads. As we all know, Harold very seldom strays from the tried and true Caesar salad. But this one had the great addition of baby kale. It was lightly dressed with lots of shaved Parmesan. Ciabatta croutons added a great crunch.

Crisp Romaine & Baby Kale Caesar shaved Parmesan cheese, toasted garlic ciabatta croutons $8.00


I could eat this salad every single day. I promise. If they would bottle the dressing for this salad, I would buy as many bottles as I could. It was light and vinegary and paired well with the mixed greens. The toasted pumpkin seeds were a great seasonal addition. The tomatoes and cucumbers are hidden in this picture, but they were there!

Organic Field Greens cucumbers, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds, white balsamic vinaigrette $5.80


Harold chose the Oak Grilled Flat Iron Steak. Grilled Flat Iron Steak mushrooms, roasted tomato, broccolini, Yukon mash, red wine sauce $16.00. He was nice enough to share a few bites with me. The steak literally was so tender you could cut it with the fork. Melt in your mouth delicious. The steak was cooked perfectly to his order of medium rare. Sorry for the blurred picture. I think he was pulling the plate back over in front of him so he could get started on this beautiful meal.


I chose the Southern Shrimp and Grits. Southern-Style Shrimp and Grits sauté of shrimp, chorizo, bacon and sweet peppers over stone ground cheddar grits $19.50.

The shrimp were perfectly cooked, the grits were cheesy and hot and not gummy as some grits can be when have been prepared for awhile. Everything on this plate was freshly made and plated. The addition of the chorizo added a little heat, but it wasn't overwhelming. I would order this one again.


And now it's time for dessert. Instead of huge pieces of cake or pie, Seasons 52 offers "Mini-Indulgences." $3.50 Each glass holds about 3 - 4 bites. Just enough.

We were presented with a selection of about 10 of these perfect sized desserts. True to form and our personalities, Harold can't resist chocolate and peanut butter and I couldn't say no to the pecan pie. We shared bites of each one and both were amazing.



A perfect spot for a late afternoon anniversary meal. Don't miss an opportunity to dine at Seasons 52.