Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Tuscan Garlic Salmon Patties

These were definitely not your typical salmon patties.  I jazzed up these little babies with some Tone's Tuscan Garlic seasoning.

I cooked some cornbread and purple hull peas to go alongside the salmon patties and it was the perfect Sunday afternoon meal. The one can of salmon gave 4 nice sized patties. But you could make them much smaller, say bite sized, and that would be a great little appetizer portion.

2 T. vegetable oil
1 can salmon, drained and skin and bones removed
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T. self-rising flour
2 t. Tones Tuscan Garlic seasoning blend
2 t. minced onion
2 t. minced parsley

I used a cast iron skillet for frying these salmon patties. I find that it heats more evenly and, therefore, cooks them faster. Pour the vegetable oil into a large skillet and heat until it shimmers on medium high heat.

Break up salmon very finely with fork and then combine with the remaining ingredients. Shape into four or five patties and place into skillet. Lower heat to medium and cook 3 - 4 minutes per side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels and serve with lemon wedges.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Salisbury Steak with Onion and Mushroom Gravy

This is a true comfort food classic. Salisbury steak with onion and mushroom gravy. A staple of "TV dinners in the 60s, this is on an entirely different level. I cooked these in a LARGE Lodge cast iron skillet and the aroma from my kitchen would have made anyone ravenous. 

This dish was invented during the Civil War by Dr. James Salisbury, who prescribed minced beef for convalescing soldiers. It became very popular during WW II.

3 T. vegetable oil, divided
2 cups chopped onions, divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 lb. ground chuck
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup fine, dry breadcrumbs
2 t. yellow mustard
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
1 t. salt, divided
1 t. freshly ground black pepper, divided
8 oz. sliced fresh mushrooms
3 T. all purpose flour
1/2 cup dry red wine 
1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 cup onion and cook 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and cook 30 seconds. Remove skillet from heat. Pour onions and garlic into a small bowl and let cool.

In a large bowl, combine beef, eggs, breadcrumbs, mustard, Worcestershire, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. pepper, and cooled onions and garlic. Mix well and shape into 6 oval patties.

Cook patties in remaining 2 T. oil in the same large skillet over medium high heat for 3 minutes per side or until browned. Do not cook through. Remove from skillet to a platter or plate.

Ad remaining 1 cup onions to drippings in skillet, and cook over medium heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add mushrooms, and cook 3 minutes.

Whisk in flour, and cook, stirring constantly 1 minute.

Whisk in wine, broth, and remaining 1/2 t. and 1/2 t. pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Add patties back to skillet.

Baked, covered, for 25 minutes until done. Top with chopped parsley before serving. 

Adapted from The Southern Living Community Cookbook.

Honey Glazed Carrots with Thyme

I needed a simple side dish to serve alongside Salisbury steak and mashed potatoes. A quick check of the fridge confirmed my hopes that carrots would be in the crisper drawer. A quick stay in the steamer basket and within 15 minutes the side dish was ready to serve.

6 - 8 carrots, peeled and trimmed and cut on the diagonal
salt and pepper to taste
1 - 2 T. butter
1 T. honey
1/8 t. dried thyme

In a medium saucepan, place a steamer basket and add enough water to reach bottom of steamer basket. Bring to a boil over high heat and add sliced carrots. Cover and lower heat to medium high and let carrots steam until tender 10 - 12 minutes.

Remove carrots from steamer basket and place in serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in butter so that it begins to melt and drizzle with honey. Sprinkle with thyme and serve immediately.

Spoon Rolls

These are the fastest and easiest homemade rolls ever. They contain yeast, but require no rising and kneading. Just stir the ingredients together and bake.

1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
4 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup butter, melted
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease 2 (12 cup) muffin pans.

Stir together yeast and warm water in a large bowl, let stand 5 minutes or until mixture bubbles.

Stir in flour, melted butter, sugar, and egg.

Spoon batter into prepared pans, filling each cup 2/3 full. Bake at 400 degrees 13 - 15 minutes or until golden. Turn out of pans and serve warm.

From Lilann Taylor via The Southern Living Community Cookbook

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ultimate Hash Brown Casserole

Tired of the same old boring hash brown casserole? Ready to pack in extra flavors and have a "real" meal casserole for breakfast? This casserole can be prepared the night before, refrigerated, and popped into the oven the next morning and 35 minutes later......a delicious, filling, comfort food breakfast.

1 lb. breakfast sausage (I used the "hot" variety)
1/4 cup diced onions
1/4 cup diced red bell peppers
16 oz. sour cream
Large size cream of mushroom (or chicken) soup
30 oz. bag shredded hash brown potatoes (thawed)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole dish with non-stick spray.

In a medium skillet, over medium heat, brown sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until sausage is cooked through and vegetables have begun to soften. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine sour cream and cream of mushroom soup and stir until well combined. Break up hash browns and mix into the sour cream/soup mixture. Stir in cheese and spoon into prepared baking dish.

Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until brown and bubbly. Serve immediately.


Friday, January 22, 2016

Orange Cranberry Blondies

The granddaughters and I decided that it was a good morning to bake. They enjoyed making these sweet treats. The original recipe called for fresh cranberries, but I had Craisins on hand and they worked great!

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup extra fine granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 t. pure vanilla extract
1 t. freshly grated orange zest
2 cups all-purpose flour*
1 t. salt
1 1/2 cups dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, allowing it to hang over sides. Coat paper with cooking spray.
In a stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk together melted butter with brown sugar and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs, zest and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Remove the bowl and stir in the flour and salt just until moistened. Gently fold in the cranberries until distributed.
Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing top.
Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let pan cool completely then cut them into 8 large or 16 small squares and serve.
Adapted from Imperial Sugar recipes.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Lolly's Breakfast Potatoes

I'm not a big breakfast eater. I never have been. But on mornings when I have time to actually cook a leisurely breakfast, I promise you I could inhale an entire iron skillet of these breakfast potatoes. A well seasoned cast iron skillet is essential to developing the perfect browned crunch for these little bites.

3 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
Finely chopped parsley

Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet over high heat until it begins to shimmer. Carefully add potatoes to the skillet and lower heat to medium high. Let the potatoes begin to brown and loosen from the bottom of the skillet before attempting to turn them.

Continue frying potatoes until they reach a golden brown color on all sides. Remove from heat, add salt, pepper and parsley. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

National Cheese Lover's Day !

How better to celebrate National Cheese Lover's Day than a great cheese plate for dinner?!?

Let's start at 6 o'clock and move clockwise.  We'll begin with extra sharp cheddar, spreadable brie, morel mushroom and leek Monterey jack, club crackers, Danish blue and Gruyere. 

Paired with a chilled glass of pinot grigio, tonight's dinner was perfect.

Southern Farmhouse Soup

The below freezing temperatures have reached the Deep South. Thank goodness these days of cold only last a short while. This recipe is a total crock pot recipe. No sauteing of vegetables or browning of meats required, just chop and place in the crock pot. 

6 cups chicken stock
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
3 Russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 cups chopped cooked ham
freshly ground black pepper
1 t. Herbes de Provence
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup heavy cream

Place first 10 ingredients in crock pot and place on high setting. Cover and let cook for 6 - 8 or on low setting 10 - 12 hours. Before serving, taste to see if you need to add any salt. With the ham and the Worcestershire you may not need to add any additional salt.

Stir in heavy cream and serve immediately.

Pork & Shrimp Sausage Jambalaya

I picked up a few pounds of pork and shrimp sausage at Berry Town Produce last weekend. https://berrytownproduce.com/

Monday afternoon was the perfect time to make a pot of pork and shrimp sausage jambalaya.

2 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1 pound pork and shrimp sausage
1 t. Cajun or Creole seasoning
3 T. tomato paste
1/2 t. cayenne pepper (optional)
1 1/4 cup uncooked white rice
2 1/2 cup water
6 - 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
chopped parsley and thinly sliced green onions for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt butter and add onion, bell pepper, and celery. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables soften and onion is translucent.

Add sausage and break the meat up with a wooden spoon and continue cooking until sausage is no longer pink.

Add seasoning and tomato paste. If you're using the cayenne, add it now. Stir to completely combine.

Add rice and water and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Let jambalaya cook until rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed. This will usually take 20 - 25 minutes. Be careful not to let the rice scorch.

Remove from heat and top with cherry tomatoes, chopped parsley and sliced green onions. Serve with toasted French bread. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dining Out - New Orleans area - Middendorf's

While visiting New Orleans last weekend, we took a short drive out of the city to Middendorf's for s their legendary thin fried catfish. Please take a few minutes and check out their website http://middendorfsrestaurant.com/ The restaurant is located in Manchac, Louisiana and was originally opened in 1934.  

The crowds were there in full force by 12:30 p.m. By the time we finished eating, there were people waiting outside! That always speaks well of a restaurant.
I've heard locals speak of their catfish delicacies and onion rings for years. I'm thrilled that we were finally able to go see what all the chatter was about and doubly thrilled that longtime friends met us there for lunch!

So let's start with those onion rings, shall we?

Thick sliced, with extremely crunchy breading, these were served piping hot. The large order, pictured above, is $6.25. A small order is $4.50. I enjoyed mine with ketchup and lots of Crystal hot sauce mixed in!

I love trying different restaurants' versions of gumbo. I chose their shrimp gumbo. A cup is $4.90/ bowl $7.00. The roux was very dark and rich. Sometimes, the cups (or bowls) of gumbo that are served in restaurants are WAY heavy on the rice and very light on the gumbo. Not this cup. As you can see, there's a perfect proportion of gumbo to rice. No crackers of bread needed here. This was some of the best gumbo I've ever ordered in a restaurant.

Now, on to the main event! Bring on some of that thin fried catfish....

I will try to describe this platter of fried catfish. The fillets are lightly breaded in cornmeal and fried to the exact moment of perfection. They weren't greasy in the least and each bite was better than the last. I understand now why their catfish is considered legendary. A small order $13.45 / large order $16.45. Served with cole slaw (crunchy/slightly sweet), fries and hush puppies.

And now to the combination platters.

Shrimp and oyster platter $17.50

Catfish and shrimp platter $16.45

I ordered the catfish and oyster platter $17.25. The oysters were cooked "just" to the point of excellent crispness without being greasy or overcooked. 

If you are ever in New Orleans, please take a short drive to Middendorf's and enjoy the atmosphere and the beauty of Southern Louisiana along with a delicious meal.

Mirliton, Shrimp and Crabmeat Dressing

Do you know what a mirliton is? Have you ever eaten them or cooked with them? Have you ever seen these in your grocery store and not had any idea what they were or what to do with them?

Here's a quick mirliton lesson! The common name is chayote. It is a member of the cucumber and squash families.  Please follow this link for great information.  http://www.thekitchn.com/mirlitons-are-the-unofficial-squash-of-new-orleans-220993

4 - 6 mirlitons, sliced lengthwise 
4 T. butter
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
3 - 4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 t. dried thyme
1 t. of your favorite hot sauce
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and deveined, coarsely chopped
1 lb. crab meat (check for pieces of shell!)
2 cups Italian bread crumbs
Extra butter for topping
chopped parsley

Place mirlitons in a large saucepan or Dutch oven and cover with water. Boil for 30 - 40 minutes until tender. Drain water and allow to cool. Remove and discard seeds and roughly chop the softened mirlitons. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly butter a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium high heat.  Add onion, bell pepper, celery and garlic. Stirring frequently, cook for 3 - 5 minutes until vegetables begin to soften. Add salt, pepper, thyme, and hot sauce. 

Add shrimp, and cook for a minute or two and then add crab meat and stir gently to combine. 

Lower heat to low and add cooked mirlitons.  Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Stirring frequently, allow mixture to heat through and stir in bread crumbs.

Spoon into prepared casserole dish. Top with dots of butter. Bake for 30 minutes or so until dressing is browned.

Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Dining Out - New Orleans - Cafe Pontalba

Every time we visit New Orleans we do our best to have a meal at Cafe Pontalba on Jackson Square. Not only is the food delicious, but you have the opportunity to people watch at the same time. With a wonderful view from any seat in the restaurant, you can watch street performers, listen to wonderful music, hear accents from all over the world, see gorgeous artwork for sale, AND have this gorgeous view of St. Louis Cathedral.

Let's start with a Bloody Mary. Not too spicy, with pickled green beans and lime slices, this was very refreshing and a nice start to our meal. $6.00

We shared a cup of Gumbo Ya Ya (gumbo with chicken and sausage).  Loaded with onions, bell peppers, and celery there was still room for a nice mixture of chicken and sausage. The heat was very subtle and left a very pleasant glow rather than scorching your mouth.  $5.95

I try to order differently each time, but it seems I'm always drawn to my favorite, Shrimp Etouffee. I added a little extra heat courtesy of Louisiana Hot Sauce and it was, as always, perfect.  Creamy and rich sauce was the perfect base for the delicate shrimp. $12.95

Harold LOVES fried shrimp so the Shrimp Platter was his selection. Sixteen LARGE shrimp fried to perfection served with fries and tartar and cocktail sauces.  $18.95


This recipe comes from Soul Food by Joyce White. My daughter gave me this book for Christmas and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories of the churches and the members who make up their congregations.

After reading through the ingredient list and the process for making jollof, I determined that it is very similar to a Latin American Arroz Con Pollo, a Spanish Paella, a Korean Bibimbap and definitely a Cajun/Creole Jambalaya. The word Jollof takes its name from the ancient West African kingdom, Wolof.

Don't be intimated by the ingredient list or the steps to this dish. This is a wonderful dish to let simmer on a stay at home afternoon. Sweet Harold reports this is the BEST DISH I have cooked in a very long time. 

And here's where we start!

1 broiler-fryer chicken, 3 1/4 - 3 1/2 pounds (I used a mixture of B/S chicken thighs and breasts)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
1 pound lean boneless beef sirloin
1 onion
1 green or red pepper
2 - 3 cloves garlic
1 - 2 hot cayenne or Jamaican chili peppers
3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme or1 t. dried thyme
3 cups chopped canned or fresh tomatoes
3 cups chicken broth or homemade chicken stock
3 T. tomato paste
1 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 T. chopped parsley
4 cups water
1 t. salt
2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice

Cut the chicken into serving pieces: the breast into halves, and the legs, thighs, and wings separated, for a total of eight pieces. Trim off as much visible fat as possible.

Rinse the chicken with cold water and then dry well with paper towels.

Heat 2 T. of the oil in a large heavy pot, at least 6 quart size. Place three or four chicken pieces at a time in the pot and brown quickly over medium-high heat, turning often.

Remove the chicken from the pan when browned and transfer to a platter or bowl. When all the chicken is browned, pour over the lemon or lime juice and then sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cut the beef into 1 inch chunks. Place the beef in the pot and brown quickly on all sides, adding another tablespoon of oil if necessary. Remove the beef from the pot when browned and set aside.

Slice the onion; core and dice the pepper; mince the garlic and the chili peppers. Chop the fresh thyme or crush the dried herb. Add the remaining 1 T. of oil to the pot and stir in the vegetables and thyme. Saute over medium-low heat for 4 - 5 minutes.

Stir into the pot the tomatoes, chicken broth or stock, tomato paste, salt, black pepper, bay leaves and the parsley. Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the tomato sauce is done, return the chicken to the pot and simmer, covered for about 50 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and done, turning occasionally.

In another large pot or saucepan, bring the water to a boil. Add the salt and then stir in the rice. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook the rice only until it is no longer hard but not quite tender, for about 10 minutes. Watch carefully and don't cook until rice is done.

Drain the rice and return it to the pot it was cooked in. Stir into the rice about 2 1/2 cups of the tomato sauce from the chicken.

Place the pot of rice back on the heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is tender and all the sauce is absorbed. If the rice begins to stick, add a little more sauce from the pot.

Add the beef to the pot with the chicken, submerging the pieces into the tomato sauce. Cover and cook for 15 - 20 minutes or until the meet is heated thoroughly. Remove the bay leaves and discard.

At serving, transfer the chicken and beef to a large warmed bowl, basin or platter. Pour over some of the tomato sauce.

Transfer the rice to a warm bowl or platter and let the feast begin.


Saturday, January 9, 2016

Lolly's Beef & Vegetable Stew

I have been craving beef stew for weeks. Today was a gray, semi-rainy day and I knew it was the perfect opportunity to cook a warm and comforting pot of beef and vegetable stew.

I added a little red wine to deglaze the Dutch oven. Of course, you can use extra beef stock or water if you prefer.

1/4 cup olive oil
2 lbs. stew meat, cut into bite sized chunks
1/2 cup self-rising flour, seasoned with salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 large yellow onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup red wine
4 cups beef stock
1 cup water
3 ribs celery, thinly sliced (including some of the leaves if you have those)
4 medium carrots, sliced
4 - 5 medium Russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 bay leaf
1/2 t. dried thyme
2 T. Worcestershire sauce 
1 cup frozen green peas
fresh parsley, chopped

In a large Dutch oven, over medium heat, pour in olive oil.

In a shallow plate, place seasoned flour and toss a few pieces of the stew meat at a time and then drop them into the Dutch oven to begin to brown. Continue flouring and adding the meat to the pot until all the meat as browned.

Add onions and garlic and let cook, stirring ever minute or two, until onions begin to soften.

Add the wine and scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the Dutch oven. Next add the beef stock and water.

Now it's time to add the vegetables, bay leaf, thyme and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer. Let the stew cook, stirring over 30 minutes or so, over very low heat for a few hours until the vegetables are cooked. Taste for seasoning and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

About 15 minutes before serving add the peas and remove the bay leaf. When ready to serve, ladle into bowls and top with chopped parsley.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Gigi's Fabulous Caramel Cake

This was our dessert for New Year's Day. I'd never made a caramel cake before. It certainly wouldn't win any prizes for beauty, but it certainly would for taste! I was amazed at how light and airy the cake layers were. The icing set up VERY quickly and as a result didn't smooth out very well, but it was a delicious almost praline type icing.

For the cake:
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 cup milk
2 cups sifted all purpose flour
2 3/4 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
4 eggs
2 cups sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

For the icing:
2 2/3 cups light brown sugar
1 stick butter
7 T. evaporated milk
1 t. vanilla extract

To make the cake:
Heat the oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. Combine the butter and milk in a small saucepan, and cook over low heat until the butter melts. Stir well and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl, and stir with a fork to mix well. In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar, and beat well at high speed, scraping down the bowl often, until light yellow, smooth, and thick.

Stir the flour mixture into the egg mixture, mixing only until the flour disappears. Add the cooled milk mixture, mixing only until the flour disappears. Add the cooled milk mixture and the vanilla, stir well, and divide the batter between the prepared pans.

Bake at 325 degrees for 25 - 30 minutes, until the cakes are a pale golden brown, spring back when touched lightly in the center and begin to pull away from the sides of the pans.

Cool in the pans for 10 minutes on wire racks or folded kitchen towels. Then turn out the cakes onto wire racks or plates to cool completely, top side up.

To make the Icing.
Have the layers handy and ready for frosting, so that you can spread the warm frosting quickly once it is ready. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, butter, evaporated milk, and vanilla. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Stir well and then adjust the heat so that the frosting boils and bubbles gently. Cook for 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.

Beat the warm icing with a wooden spoon until it thickens, 2 - 3 minutes. Place a cake layer, top side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. Quickly spread some icing over the top,and cover it with the second cake layer top side up. Ice the top quickly and then spread the remaining icing over the sides.

If the icing becomes too hard to spread, warm gently over low heat, add a spoonful or two of evaporated milk, and then scrape and stir well until the icing softens enough to spread again. Dip a table knife in very hot water to help soften and smooth out the icing once it is spread.

From Southern Cakes by Nancie McDermott

Dining Out Southeast ~~ Linde Marie's Steakhouse, Cave Springs, GA

Every now and then we travel over to Cave Springs, Georgia for a day of antique store browsing and fudge eating.  A friend suggested that if we had time to eat a meal at Linde Marie's Steakhouse on the Square. We were promptly seated and the server arrived for drink orders almost immediately. We weren't rushed as we reviewed the menu which, of course, included steaks, but also chicken, pasta, salads, burgers and seafood.

For our appetizer, we chose fried stone ground cheddar cheese grit cakes topped with seasoned grilled shrimp, diced red bell pepper and thinly sliced green onions.  $7.95. These were really creamy on the inside without being overly cheesy.

My Caesar salad was lightly dressed (the way I like it) and had plenty of croutons as you can see.

Harold ordered a side salad with blue cheese dressing (little bitty bits of cheese here instead of larger pieces) with a nice mixture of greens. The red onion was sliced a little on the thick side. Considering it was a strong red onion, it was a little overpowering.

One of yesterday's specials was country fried streak with onion gravy over garlic mashed potatoes. The steak was fork tender and the mashed potatoes had a very subtle garlic flavor.  $13.95

And, as always, if I go to a restaurant with a type food in their name, I know that is what I have to order!  So a 12 ounce rib eye for Lolly cooked to a PERFECT medium. The baked potato was completely cooked with none of those hard pockets of half raw potato.  And HOT.  I want my baked potato to be hot! $19.95 and worth every cent.

We were too full to order dessert, but several tables around us did and their choices looked amazing. If you're ever in Cave Springs, GA, give Linde Marie's Steakhouse a try.  I'm certainly glad we did.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Sweet and Savory Cracker Bites

Another Pioneer Woman recipe. These little bites have been an cocktail party staple for years according to her cookbook. I had never heard of them nor tried them. As always, I tend to prefer the savory over the sweet. Next time I wouldn't put as much sugar in the sweet bites, but that's just me.  :)  I used Gruyere instead of Parmesan (just because I had it on hand). 

36 club style crackers
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 pound bacon (not thick sliced)

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.

Lay the crackers on a rack set over a rimmed baking sheet.

Place a tablespoon of cheese on half of the crackers.

Add a tablespoon of brown sugar on the other half.

Slice the bacon in half.

Wrap each cracker with a half piece of bacon tucking the end of the piece underneath the cracker.

Bake the crackers for 2 hours. The bacon will cook slowly and start to wrap tightly around the cracker and the excess grease will drip off.

Serve them on a platter...you can keep them separate or pile them all up together!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Year's Meal: Ham, Greens, Black Eyed Peas & Lolly's Cornbread

Happy New Year Everyone!

I hope you enjoyed a wonderful day yesterday with family, friends, lots of good food and maybe some football games! We enjoyed the "must haves" for New Year's Day: ham (or pork), black eyed peas, kale (greens) and cornbread!

The more pork in your meal, the more luck you will have. So don’t just use ham hock and fatback to flavor your veggies; eat a baked ham or pork chops as a main dish.

It's fully cooked and just needs a few hours in the oven to warm through and bring out all the wonderful flavors. Slice it very thin to enjoy all the country ham goodness. 

Greens: collard greens, turnip greens, mustard greens, spinach, kale......as long as you have greens on the table you will be blessed with green folding money! Well, it's worth a shot, isn't it?

Instead of collard or turnip greens, this year I decided to cook kale with tasso. 

2 - 1 lb. bags of kale
1 cup chopped tasso
salt and pepper to taste
1 t. red wine vinegar
1 t. sugar

In a large Dutch oven, place the kale greens and cover with water. Bring to a boil and add the chopped tasso. Cover and lower to a gentle simmer and stir occasionally.  Add additional water if necessary. When kale is tender (2 - 3 hours of simmering), add the red wine vinegar and sugar. Serve with hot sauce, pepper sauce or chow chow.

Black eyed peas are another true Southern tradition for New Year's day. The practice of eating black-eyed peas for luck is generally believed to date back to the Civil War. At first planted as food for livestock, and later a food staple for slaves in the South, the fields of black-eyed peas were ignored as Sherman's troops destroyed or stole other crops, thereby giving the humble, but nourishing, black-eyed pea an important role as a major food source for surviving Confederates. Of course, you also need a "pone" of cornbread to go alongside.
  • Served with greens (collards, mustard or turnip greens, which varies regionally), the peas represent coins and the greens represent paper money. In some areas cabbage is used in place of the greens.
  • Cornbread, often served with black-eyed peas and greens, represents gold.
  • For the best chance of luck every day in the year ahead, one must eat at least 365 black-eyed peas on New Year's Day.
  • Black-eyed peas eaten with stewed tomatoes represent wealth and health.

1 lb. package dried black eyed peas, rinsed and soaked in cold water overnight or at least for a few hours and then drained
1 ham hock or 2 cups of chopped ham or bacon
salt to taste
bacon grease (optional)

Add pre-soaked beans to a large Dutch oven and cover with water. Bring to a boil and skim off any scum that forms on the top. Add ham hock or chopped ham or bacon. Reduce heat to a simmer and let peas cook for several hours stirring occasionally. Stir carefully so as not to crush the peas and turn them to mush. You don't want mushy peas! When peas are cooked, add salt and/or bacon grease to flavor.

And now, my favorite part of any meal.... cornbread!

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

Stewed Potatoes

My mother made these at least weekly when I was a little girl. I adore all things potato, so it's a given, I would love these. Very simply made, but with comfort food flavor, these are an excellent side dish with roasted pork, beef or chicken.

6 - 8 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into large cubes
water to cover
1 t. salt
2 T. flour
4 T. water
3 T. butter
1/2 cup milk
1 t. onion flakes
salt and pepper to taste

Place potatoes in medium sauce pot, cover with water and add 1 t. salt. Bring to a gentle boil and cook only until potatoes are fork tender.

Mix the flour and 4 T. water together in a small bowl. Gently add the flour/water mixture into the pot with the potatoes and allow to cook for a few minutes to begin to thicken the liquid. 

Add butter, milk, onion flakes, and salt / pepper. 

If you need to thicken the sauce a little, add more flour. If it becomes too thick, add a little more water or milk.

Happy New Year 2016 Meal

Happy New Year to you and yours! Last night's meal included ham, black eyed peas, stewed potatoes, kale, cornbread and caramel cake. I love cooking this type of meal. No recipes here (except for the cake!), just food I've cooked and eaten my entire life. I'll post each one separately with my method of cooking.