Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Spanish Pot Roast with Anchovies and Sherry (Crock Pot Meal)

Once again, I will sing the praises of a crock pot (slow cooker) especially during these searing hot days of July. This recipe starts with the King of all crock pot roasts, the chuck roast. It's one of the best cuts for slow cooking or braising. But with the addition of ingredients which are used frequently in Spanish cooking, this is not your ordinary weeknight roast.

Anchovies are tiny fish that are native to the Mediterranean. Yes, anchovies straight from the tin, are strong, fishy, and an acquired taste. But when used correctly, and allowed to mellow out into the sauce of dishes, they are going to be your new secret ingredient to add "umami" or a deep, savory flavor. These little bits of anchovies melt and disappear into the sauce leaving a wonderful flavor.

I hope you enjoy this one.

2 t. EACH granulated garlic, black pepper, and dried thyme
1 t. Kosher salt
1 boneless beef chuck roast, (3 - 4 lbs.)
6 medium carrots, peeled and quartered
2 medium yellow onions, quartered
3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 T. olive oil
8 - 9 canned anchovy fillets, drained
1 t. minced fresh garlic
1 cup dry sherry
1/3 cup cold water
1 T. cornstarch

Combine granulated garlic, pepper, dried thyme, and salt; pat on all sides of the roast.

Add carrots, onions, and fresh thyme to a 4 - 6 quart slow cooker.

Heat oil in saute' pan over medium high heat.  Brown roast on all sides, about 10 mintues total; transfer to slow cooker.

Add anchovies and garlic to pan and cook until fragrant, 1 - 2  minutes. Deglaze pan with sherry, scraping up any brown bits; bring to a simmer, then pour over roast in slower cooker.

Cover slow cooker and cook roast until fork tender on high setting, 4 - 5 hours, or low setting 7 - 8 hours. Transfer roast and vegetables to a plate. Strain liquid into a saucepan, discarding solids; heat over medium.

Whisk together cold water and cornstarch until smooth, then whisk into liquid in saucepan. Bring sauce to a simmer, stirring occasionally, and cook until slightly thickened. Serve sauce with roast and vegetables.

Thinking about a side dish for this meal? How about mashed cauliflower? This version will pair especially well with the Spanish influences of the roast.

From Celebrate the Seasons

Mashed Cauliflower with Manzanilla Olives

If you're looking for an alternative (read: low carb) to potatoes, have you tried mashed cauliflower? This side dish pairs well with the Spanish Pot Roast in that includes pimento stuffed green olives. Yes, you read that correctly!

I'll go on record as being a non-fan of cauliflower. But this recipe changed all that. I could have eaten the entire batch myself. It was that good!

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup chopped Manzanilla olives (pimento stuffed green olives)
2 T. unsalted butter
salt and white pepper to taste
chopped fresh chives (optional)

Steam cauliflower and garlic in a steamer basket set in a pot of boiling water until softened, 8 - 10 minutes.

Purée cauliflower mixture in a food processor, scraping down sides as needed; transfer to a bowl.

Stir olives and butter into purée.  Season purée  with salt and pepper and garnish with chives.

From Celebrate the Seasons

Monday, July 25, 2016

Caprese Pasta Salad

Regular blog followers know how much I love basil and the combination of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil served as a caprese salad is an all time favorite. We're enduring a heat wave right now and I knew what would be cool and delicious for dinner tonight. I incorporated the three main ingredients of a caprese salad and mixed it with mini bow tie pasta and dressed it with a balsamic vinaigrette. It was perfect as is, but I can imagine it would be over the top with the addition of cooked diced chicken or grilled shrimp.

8 oz. mini bow tie (farfalle) pasta, cooked according to package directions and drained
2 medium tomatoes, seeds removed, and diced
8 oz. fresh mozzarella, diced
3/4 - 1 cup balsamic vinaigrette dressing
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, stacked together, rolled tightly and thinly sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

Let cooked and drained pasta cool.

In a large serving bowl, combine pasta, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and dressing. Lightly toss in the basil leaves, salt, and pepper. 

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Additional dressing may be added just before serving if needed. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Grilled Summer Vegetables

With summer vegetables at their peak, it's THE time to enjoy them every day. Just because you're grilling is no excuse not in incorporate summer's bounty at mealtime. If you don't have a grill basket, please purchase one as soon as possible. When preparing the vegetables, try to cut them very close in size so they will cook uniformly. This recipe may not even qualify as a recipe! I'll tell you the veggies I had on hand and the simple way to prepare them for the grill.

2 medium yellow squash, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium zucchini, ends trimmed and cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
1 red onion, cut into quarters and then cut in half again
1 medium green bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes
1 T. olive oil
Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Prepare all the vegetables and place in grill basket. When ready to place on the grill, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the vegetables.

Place on preheated grill (medium high heat) and allow to cook for 10 minutes. Using tongs, toss vegetables and continue to cook until vegetables begin to char. When they have cooked to the texture you want, remove from heat (carefully because the basket will be hot!) and serve immediately.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Grilled Garlic & Herb Pork Tenderloin

I am continuing to learn the grilling process. Sweet Harold is enjoying the break from grilling and encourages each new attempt I make. Next time you're grocery shopping, please take a look and see if your store sells Smithfield Marinated Pork Tenderloins. If not, PLEASE ask your meat department to stock them. You can grill them, cook in the oven, or crock pot. So simple. Open the package and place on the grill!

Tonight I chose the Garlic and Herb version. I let the tenderloin come to close to room temperature.

Preheat the grill on high. Lower the temperature to a consistent 400 - 425 degrees. Place the tenderloin on the hot grill grates and close the lid. Let cook 5 - 8 minutes or until, when attempting to lift the tenderloin from the grill grates with tongs, it releases easily.

Turn 1/4 turn, close lid and repeat. Now it's time to turn the tenderloin over and repeat the process.

When the tenderloin reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, remove from grill. Place the tenderloin on a tray and cover with foil for about 10 minutes and allow the pork to rest before slicing. This will allow the juices to redistribute throughout the meat.

Slice on an angle and serve immediately.

Doesn't that look absolutely delicious !?!

Dining Out Southeast - Bell Buckle Cafe, Bell Buckle, TN

Last Saturday, Sweet Harold and I decided it was time for a road trip. We've visited Bell Buckle, TN several times in the past and knew we were due for another trip. Bell Buckle was founded in 1852. It's about a 3 hour drive from our home and we enjoyed (as always) the nice drive through the rolling hills and farmland of Southern Tennessee. 

Here's a few pictures of the "downtown" area of Bell Buckle.

Each year on the third Saturday in June, a Moon Pie and RC Cola Festival is held. Just about every shop or store you enter, will have Moon Pies and RC colas available. This is a wonderful area to spend the day, shopping, browsing, and enjoying a delicious meal at the Bell Buckle Cafe.

We thought by waiting until after 1 p.m. for lunch, we would beat the lunch crowd. We were mistaken! After a half hour wait, we were seated and began to explore the menu. And when I say "explore the menu", I mean exactly that. A very extensive menu of some of the best food the South has to offer. 

Then I noticed the "Daily Specials" list. We both chose from those offerings. A meat and three vegetables $10.99. These lunches were worth every penny.

Sweet Harold chose:  Country Fried Steak, Mashed Potatoes with Gravy, Navy Beans with Ham, Macaroni and Cheese and Cornbread which was served as a hoe cake. He didn't want to share, but I made him.  Isn't that a carb lovers dream, right there?

I chose Baked Chicken Breast with Cornbread Dressing, Pickled Beets (YUM!), Green Beans, Cornbread, and Creamed Corn.  I didn't want to share, but Sweet Harold made me.  lol

Each item on both plates were cooked exactly as I would at home. If you are craving true Southern Cuisine, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a lunch or dinner.

And because we cleaned our plates (!), we rewarded ourselves with dessert.

Sweet Harold chose the Fudge Pie. The bite I swiped was very chocolatey, warm and gooey. The ice cream was an added bonus.

When in Bell Buckle, you better enjoy a Moon Pie. Our served asked if I wanted a chocolate Moon Pie, but the banana flavor is my all time favorite. It was warm, and oozing banana goodness. When asked if I wanted chocolate or caramel sauce, and I hesitated to ponder that decision, our server quickly told me he would add both! A perfect ending to our meal!

Taco Tuesdays: Chorizo and Black Bean Tacos

Our series of Taco Tuesdays continues. This week's pairing combines chorizo and black beans in Ortega Taco Flat Shells. This recipe also has the distinction of being ready start to finish in 32 minutes. That's great for a weeknight meal!

Ortego Taco Flat Shells
1 pound chorizo, casings removed
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup chopped onions
1/4 chop diced jalapenos
1/3 cup diced tomatoes
1/2 cup shredded White Quesadilla cheese

chopped cilantro
sour cream
sliced avocados

Begin by browning the chorizo in a medium skillet over medium heat. Break the chorizo into pieces with a wooden spoon and allow to cook for 6 - 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain well.

While the chorizo is browning, heat the beans in a small saucepan.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  

Place the taco shells in a medium baking dish. Spoon black beans into the shells.

Now it's time to layer in that delicious chorizo.

 Divide the onions, jalapenos and tomatoes over the chorizo.

 And last, but not least, sprinkle the cheese evenly oven the tacos.

Place in the oven 3 - 5 minutes until the cheese melts.

 Top with your favorite taco toppings! I chose cilantro and sour cream for mine.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Nutty Mini-Cheese Ball Bites

I realize from the title of this blog post / recipe, the last thing you're probably thinking of is a healthy snack that's also delicious and fun to make. I have come through for you lovely blog followers. You're going to love this one! The Summer Season is in full swing with pool parties, picnics in the park, family gatherings, backyard BBQs, and friends dropping by for a visit.

This recipe will include some ingredients you may not be that familiar with, so a huge thank you to our friends at nuts.com. By simply clicking on the link, you can order the nuts / seeds / berries to be delivered straight to your door.

Please take a few minutes to follow the links in the recipe to learn more about these nutritional powerhouses that are amazingly healthy and should be a part of all of our diets.

If the kids are playing in the pool and parents are visiting and snacking while keeping a watchful eye on the kiddos, this is a great nibble to serve!

Hosting a BBQ, and you want something to keep your guests happy while the main course is on the grill, these Nutty Mini-Cheese Balls are sure to please!

Now for the recipe!  And remember to click on the links to learn about the nutritional value of the highlighted ingredients. 

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz. goat cheese, softened
1/4 t. paprika
1/4 t. granulated garlic
1/4 t. onion powder
2 T. Chia Seeds
2 T. finely chopped Pepitas
1 T. finely chopped Hazelnuts
1 T. finely chopped Pistachios
2 T. finely chopped Goji Berries

Combine all the ingredients in a medium bowl. Refrigerate about 30 minutes.

Using a 1 1/2 inch scoop (you can use smaller), divide the cheese ball mixture into 12 - 14 balls and place on a plate. Back into the refrigerator they go for another 30 minutes or so. You want them to be chilled enough to handle without being sticky.

Now here's where YOUR creativity comes into play. Using any or all of the nuts / seeds / berries listed above, finely chop a few more tablespoons and spread them out into a shallow dish. I used Chia seeds, Goji Berries, and Pepitas. You can mix and match, roll them separately, keep the Pepitas whole or finely chopped, or mix everything together and roll them for a great texture and taste experience!

Carefully roll the mini-cheese balls in the mixture to completely cover the cheese balls. Place on a serving tray and refrigerate until ready to serve.

For even more ideas for fillings or toppings, visit nuts.com.

Creamy Basil Lemon Salad Dressing

The basil on the deck is thriving. As much as I enjoy pesto, I wanted a new way to enjoy my basil harvest. Lemon and basil together in a creamy buttermilk salad dressing fit the bill perfectly. The fresh aroma, the bright flavors, and the creaminess of the dressing is wonderful not only on a summer salad, but also as a dip for grilled vegetables, fries, and a topping for baked potatoes!

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, tightly packed
1/4 cup fresh parsley, stems removed, tightly packed
1 medium shallot, coarsely chopped
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, halved
3 T. freshly grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/2t. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. ground black pepper

Place the first seven ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and process for 1 - 2 minutes or until everything is blended smoothly.

Carefully transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl.

Add the next five ingredients and gently whisk to combine. If you'd like it a little thicker, add more mayonnaise. If you'd like it a little thinner, add a touch more buttermilk.

Taste and check for any seasoning adjustments you think are needed. Transfer to a cruet or a serving bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Use within 3 - 4 days.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Potato and Manchego Cheese Frittata

This is one of the easiest breakfast dishes you can prepare. You can put any combination of vegetables and cheeses in you frittata. It's a great way to use up bits of this vegetable or that little cube of cheese that's sitting forlorn in the fridge. Today I had a few Yukon Gold potatoes, a little bit of onion and green bell pepper and Manchego cheese. Bippity, Boppity, Boo!  Breakfast is served! This would also be perfect for a light lunch or dinner served with a salad.

1 T. olive oil
1 cup diced potatoes
1/4 cup small diced onions
1/4 cup small diced green bell pepper
5 jumbo eggs or 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup milk
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 1/2 cup shredded Manchego cheese, divided

In an ovenproof skillet, at least 9 inches in diameter, heat olive oil over high heat. Add potatoes and lower heat slightly and allow potatoes to cook and begin to brown.

Lower the heat to medium and add the onions and green bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add milk, salt, pepper and 3/4 cup of the shredded cheese to the lightly beaten eggs.  

Lower the heat to low and slowly pour the egg mixture on top of the potatoes and veggies. DO NOT STIR.

Let cook for 5 minutes. Preheat broiler while frittata cooks.

Add remaining cheese on top of frittata. Place under broiler for 2 - 3 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbling.

Top with chopped parsley, let rest for 2 - 3 minutes and serve!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

More Fried Green Tomatoes!

Green tomatoes are still found in abundance this time of year. So, of course, I'm going to enjoy as many as possible while they're available. The deep fryer was standing by for this batch. Sometimes I use my cast iron skillet for the FGT. The deep fryer allows you to prepare a few more at a time and cooks them faster.

3 - 4 green tomatoes, washed, ends trimmed and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups buttermilk
1 T. your favorite hot sauce
2 cups cornmeal
Salt and pepper to taste
Peanut oil

Fill deep fryer with peanut oil. Heat to a temperature of 375 degrees.

While oil heats, combine buttermilk with hot sauce. Place sliced tomatoes in buttermilk.

Place cornmeal, salt and pepper to season in a shallow dish or plate.

When oil is hot, take a few tomatoes out of buttermilk and dredge in cornmeal mixture.

Carefully lower the tomato slices into the hot oil, a few at a time. Cook for 4 - 5 minutes or until tomatoes are browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.


Bastille Day 2016: Croque Monsieur and Frites

Oh, Bastille Day! The day to celebrate all things French. As I have told my faithful readers for years, I have never cooked a recipe from Ina Garten which was not delicious, amazing, and perfect. With Bastille Day falling on a Thursday this year, simplicity was a must. With work (blech), there was no way I could prepare a lovely multi-course dinner this year. So after browsing through several of Ina's cookbooks, when I came across the phrase "slather the tops with cheese sauce......", I knew I had found our meal!

The croque monsieur is a baked or fried boiled ham and cheese sandwich. That seems so simplistic. But when you top with a lovely Gruyere and Parmesan cheese sauce, bake and then broil.......this is SO much more than a plain ham and cheese sandwich. A nice side of frites or french fries sprinkled with sea salt and thyme completed the meal.

And here is Ms. Garten's lovely recipe:

2 T. unsalted butter
3 T. all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 t. kosher salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
a pinch of nutmeg
12 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed (I left mine on)
Dijon Mustard
8 oz. baked Virginia ham, sliced, but not paper thin

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.

To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.

Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Here they are straight out of the oven.

These were SO delicious!

Yes, these shoestring potatoes are frites. What makes these little potatoes so special is the two step frying process.

I usually allow one potato per person and then add one extra potato.  Peel the potatoes and slice lengthwise about 1/4 inch thick. Then cut the slices into 1/4 inch wide pieces and soak in ice water for 15 minutes.

In a deep fryer or a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to a temperature of 325 degrees.  Drain the potatoes and blot them COMPLETELY DRY.

Divide the potatoes into batches and fry each bath until cooked, but not browned. This will usually take 4 - 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the potatoes to paper towels to drain.

Reheat the oil to 375 degrees. Fry the potatoes (in batches) until crisp and golden brown, 1 - 2 minutes per batch. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the frites to fresh paper towel to rain. 

Season with sea salt and a sprinkle of dried thyme. Serve immediately.

This was a wonderful weeknight Bastille Day meal.

From Ina Garten's 2004 Barefoot in Paris