Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, November 12, 2018

Dining Out: Galveston Island, Texas - Benno's Cajun Seafood


When you're on vacation to a location you've never visited before and you eat lunch at a restaurant and enjoy it so much you go back for dinner a few nights later, you know you're on to something special.  Where is this magical place?  Benno's Cajun Seafood.


Benno's is located right on Seawall Boulevard on Galveston Island.  You can choose to dine either indoors or on their patio with an unobstructed view of the Gulf of Mexico.

Walk up to the counter, place your order, and take a seat. Every order is prepared fresh as you wait. No heat lamps here with sad fries waiting on you to order them.  

Sweet Harold ordered a Fried Oyster Po'Boy for his lunch selection. The bread was toasted, the po'boy piled high with delicious, well-seasoned oysters, and as he requested, was served dressed (with lettuce and tomatoes). Those fries were HOT, and the coleslaw was cold and crunchy.


The lady behind the counter suggested the Cajun Oyster lunch special. I was intrigued and expected fried oysters with Cajun seasoning on them.  But more on the oysters in a moment.  Boiled new potatoes on the menu???  My favorite way to eat potatoes.  Yes, please. 


Now more on those oysters.  Compare these oysters to the ones on the po'boy in the picture above. See how they appear to be flattened and have an excellent crust to them?  This is because they are cooked on the flattop. I had never had oysters prepared this way, but I do know these were the best-fried oysters I've ever had! The seasoning had just the right amount of heat and wasn't overly salty as some Cajun seasoned food tends to be.


As we left, our server mentioned we might want to come back for dinner and try the Cajun Seafood Platter and the bread pudding.  We followed her recommendation and were indeed glad we did!

The "platter" description is very accurate. The oysters prepared as they were for the lunch special (yay!!), large Gulf shrimp, and tilapia.  Coleslaw and roasted quartered potatoes completed the platter along with a toasted piece of French bread. All menu items were well seasoned. I was very impressed with the size of the fish, as well as the shrimp and oysters. $17.95


Isn't that a beautiful plate?


And then along comes the dessert:  Bread pudding with Bourbon sauce $3.95. This was a very large serving with a more than adequate amount of luxurious sauce. We shared and still couldn't finish the entire serving.


These lovely people were great!  Thanks for two great meals while we were visiting Galveston!


Chili Mac


Saturday we attended a great Fall cookout. I carried a crockpot full of chili sauce for the hot dogs.  The recipe is here.

With the leftovers tonight, I boiled an 8 oz. package of macaroni noodles, drained them, and put the noodles back into the hot pot. I then added the chili sauce and stirred over low heat until everything was hot and thoroughly combined.

Then we spooned this goodness up into big bowls, topped with finely shredded cheese, and minced cilantro.  What a great way to completely change the original dish into a wonderful comfort food meal.



Saturday, November 10, 2018

Hot Dog Sauce for Chili


I made the "mistake" of calling this hot dog chili when I brought it to a friend's cookout this afternoon.  Some of the attendees thought that the chili was made FROM hot dogs.  Hmmm.  I thought this sauce for topping grilled hot dogs was referred to as hot dog chili. Others told me that it should be more appropriately identified as Chili Sauce for Hotdogs.

Whatever you call it, it was delicious!

This amount makes a large amount for topping hot dogs, burgers, baked potatoes, or macaroni and cheese.  It freezes well, so it's good to make up a large batch and freeze in portion sizes for your family to have on hand for those very things.

2T. butter
1 large white onion, diced
1 heaping T. minced garlic
3 lb. ground chuck
7 T. chili powder
1 T. ground cumin
2 T. Worcestershire sauce
1 - 12 oz. can tomato paste
3 cups beef broth
1 T. yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste

Melt butter in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until translucent, not browned. Add garlic and cook for another minute.

Add ground chuck and mash with a potato masher to break up the meat into tiny pieces.  You want a very fine consistency.  Continue cooking until beef is no longer pink. Drain fat.

Add next six ingredients and lower heat. Cover and simmer 10 - 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

You're ready to serve now, or swap over to a slow cooker and set to low.


Saturday, November 3, 2018

Dining Out: Galveston Island, Texas - Gaido's


We dined at Gaido's on October 12, 2018, which was our 22nd wedding anniversary. Gaido's first opened in 1911, and their claim to having the freshest seafood in the area is legendary. The restaurant is located in a large, sprawling building filled with family mementos and display cases holding gorgeous pieces of cut glassware collected through the years.

We were warmly greeted, our reservation was confirmed, and we were immediately seated.  The staff knew it was our anniversary and assured us there would be no rush and urged us to take our time and enjoy our meal. We were checked on by no less than three people during our meal. But it wasn't intrusive, just enough to let us know if there were ANY problems, they would be taken care of immediately.

White cloth tablecloths with cloth napkins, candlelight, NO TELEVISIONS, and low music so you could actually have a conversation without having to speak loudly to be heard, set the tone for a lovely evening.  Did I mention that you also have a gorgeous view of the Gulf of Mexico to enjoy while you dine?

Our server was Vadim who was attentive, wished us a Happy Anniversary and gave us a brief history of the restaurant and told us of their dedication to high quality. Kudos to Gaido's for thoroughly training their staff.

We placed our drink orders which arrived promptly.  I chose a Stoli cucumber martini and Harold had their top shelf Long Island Iced Tea. These were the best cocktails of the trip.  




We sipped while we considered the extensive menu and discussed the night's specials all the while enjoying the warm bread and rich herbed olive oil.


I never turn down an opportunity to enjoy fried crab claws. I was excited to see them on the menu! These were lightly battered, just enough so that the fresh taste of the crab wasn't overwhelmed. 


To continue with our love for crab, Sweet Harold chose the crab cake appetizer with beurre blanc sauce. The crab cake was much crab than filler which is always a sign of a restaurant that doesn't skimp or cut corners. The beurre blanc sauce was expertly made as were all the sauces which accompanied our dishes.


I couldn't pass on the shrimp bisque.  I have distinct memories of excellent soups/bisques I've enjoyed through the years:  The She Crab Soup at Firefly in Panama City Beach, Florida and the Lobster Bisque served at the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I can now happily add the Shrimp Bisque from Gaido's in Galveston. Rich, flavorful with a significant proportion of shrimp to bisque with that distinctive sherry flavor.


Sweet Harold selected the Red Snapper Michael for his entree'.  The dish is named for a server named Michael who actually designed the restaurant building. The snapper is coated in a light parmesan flour and sauteed. He elected to add lump crab meat and beurre blanc sauce.  The side dish was roasted potato wedges. He was well pleased with his selection.


If you scroll up to the very first picture, you'll notice that night's special grilled swordfish with buttered crab. I had never tried swordfish, but after Vadim's detailed description, I couldn't resist. The texture of the grilled swordfish was indeed different than your typically pan sauteed or grilled fish. Different, but delicious. See that lump crabmeat Castilla topping? If you are ever offered that as an option, please accept!  I had the asparagus as my side dish, and it was perfectly cooked.


As I mentioned, we were celebrating our anniversary. We were treated to a Key Lime Cheesecake for dessert. Oh my. The crust was lightly browned, the filling was tart, and the glaze wasn't overly sweet. A perfect ending to our wonderful meal.



Thank you Gaido's for a memorable and delicious Anniversary Celebration!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Halloween 2018 - Skeleton Time!


I bought these creepy skeleton plates last year for Halloween decorating and wasn't able to use them due to the broken foot which kept me sidelined through the holiday season! I put them to good use this year. 

Black tablecloth and napkins with silver chargers and napkin rings paired with a funky skeleton table runner set the tone for the entire table.



I love these plates!


And how about these creepy bony glasses?


The matching skull carafe is perfect for the table.



These guys are perfect for See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil!


I love hourglasses with the sand flowing through them. How about this one with dark gray sand?


Happy Halloween!  I hope it's full of treats and no tricks!

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Hickory Smoked Beef Brisket


Sweet Harold got a wild hair and decided it was time to smoke a beef brisket. I know y'all are shocked that he turned his back (temporarily) on Boston Butts to have a turn with smoking that Moos instead of Oinks.

He started with a well-marbled 5 1/2 lb. beef brisket. While the smoker got up to its desired temperature of 200 degrees, he applied a nice layer of rub which I mix up every now and then. The rub is more or less equal parts of paprika, chili powder, granulated garlic, onion powder, black pepper, sea salt, and dried oregano.

Normally, for the pork, he will add water to the hickory chips and use what is called a wet smoke. For the brisket, he omitted the addition of water to the hickory and let it be cooked with a dry smoke.

The brisket was placed fat side up on the smoker rack and smoked six hours at a temperature between 200-210 degrees F. 

The brisket was allowed to rest for about 20 minutes before slicing. 


The end result? An extremely flavorful and tender brisket that was SO delicious served as sandwiches!


Friday, October 26, 2018

2018 Halloween Kids' Table


I am extremely proud of this table. My twin 7-year-old granddaughters and their 5-year-old sister took it upon themselves to decorate their own Halloween table this year.  I gave them free reign and they discussed and debated and chose everything themselves.

It was fun watching them decide who was going to be in charge of choosing what and how they were going to place everything.  I hope you like their table.









Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Savory Herb and Garlic Slow Cooker Chicken with Mushrooms


I had a first last weekend.  I went to the grocery store with no list. Actually, I went with no idea what was going to be on the meal plans this week. I found a variation of the Lipton Onion Soup Mix on the shelves and immediately I knew this was going to be a great meal!



Let's get the slow cooker out and start cooking!

1 1/2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large can of low sodium cream of chicken soup
1 envelope Lipton Savory Herb with Garlic
12 oz. sliced mushrooms
freshly ground black pepper
egg noodles prepared according to package directions

Spray the interior of the crockpot with non-stick spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream of chicken soup with the contents of the seasoning packet.

Spread a small amount of the soup mixture on the bottom of the crockpot.  Place the chicken breasts in a single layer and pour the remaining soup mixture over the chicken.

Top with the mushrooms and add freshly ground black pepper.

Cover and set to high for 4 hours or low for 6 hours.  Serve over egg noodles and top with chopped parsley.



Dining Out: Galveston Island, Texas - La Mixteca


While exploring the Historic Strand District of Galveston Island, we followed the first rule of dining out in unfamiliar surroundings:  Ask a local!  In this instance, I stopped a mail carrier and inquired where we could get some authentic Mexican food for lunch.  She hesitated a second and started telling us about a spot close to where the cruise ships disembark and that is popular with the tourists.  I stopped her and said, "No, we want to go where the people who live and work around here would go to lunch."  She smiled and happily gave us directions to La Mixteca located at 1818 Mechanic Street, Galveston, TX  77550.

We arrived at almost high noon, and the cheerful, brightly decorated dining room was full of diners.  Diners of every age and description: families with young children, businessmen and women, couples, landscapers, and a few (smart!) tourists such as ourselves.  You get the idea.  This truly is a neighborhood restaurant.


We were immediately served chips and salsa along with our menus. The chips were fresh, hot and had just the right amount of salt. The salsa would be considered medium to medium-hot with a nice amount of cilantro.


Note that if you order a soft drink, it won't be a fountain drink in a glass.  You will receive a canned beverage of your choice along with a glass of ice for $1.65.  There are no refills.

There's a wide variety of appetizers including guacamole, shrimp cocktail, and chile con queso.

The menu is full of the usual subjects of nachos, tacos, burritos, enchiladas, etc. There were several daily specials listed on a board in the dining room. The menu has fresh seafood options as well.

Sweet Harold chose the Enchiladas Gravy with Chicken served with rice and beans.  The chicken was tender, the sauce was well seasoned with a distinct chili flavor, and as you can see, there was an ample amount of cheese.  The rice was the average Mexican rice, as were the beans.


I chose the Beef Enchiladas Verde. Anytime, I can enjoy some authentic Chile Verde, I do. I loved their version.  Once again, huge servings and served sizzling hot which is always a plus. I really dislike when food is served lukewarm.


The menu also lists an extensive breakfast menu. No matter if you're hungry for breakfast or lunch, a visit to La Mixteca will leave you full and happy.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Korean Style Pork Chops with Kimchi


This is a very simple recipe for Korean Style Pork Chops. A flavorful marinade guarantees a tender and delicious pork chop. I served my chops over spicy kimchi. Kimchi is a spicy cabbage and vegetable mixture which is fermented.  It's also the national dish of Korea!

4 boneless pork chops
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 T. honey
1 T. minced garlic
1 t. sesame oil
2 t. grated fresh ginger
1 T. Sriracha hot sauce
black pepper to taste
1 T. olive oil

In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame oil, and Sriracha.  Pour over the pork chops and let marinade for about 20 minutes.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add pork chops, without marinade, and cook for about five minutes.  When pork chops are nicely browned, turn over and pour in remaining marinade. Lower heat to medium and cook for another five minutes or so until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

Serve individual pork chops over kimchi and spoon the thickened sauce over the top.


Adapted from www.jocooks.com