Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Kids' Easter Table 2017


Spring has sprung and Easter will be here soon! I love decorating the kids' table for any holiday, but especially with Easter bunnies.

The tablecloth came from Kohl's a few years ago and I love the pretty pastel colors.

The foam chargers, plates, crazy straw cups, and napkin rings are all from Hobby Lobby.













So what do you think? If you were a little one, would you like this table?  

Sicilian Lemon & Black Pepper Wings


This chicken wing recipe is a play on the familiar Lemon Pepper Wings. The addition of Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar adds not only a fresh taste from the lemon, but the balsamic vinegar provides the perfect balance of acidity and crisp lemon flavor as well.

For the wings:
1 T. baking powder
1 - 1 1/2 T. lemon pepper seasoning
2 lbs. chicken wings, separated, wing tips removed.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Combine dry ingredients listed above in a large bowl. Toss chicken wings in seasonings until fully coated and place on baking sheet. 

Place in oven and cook for 30 - 40 minutes. Increase heat to 400 degrees F. and cook for an additional 30 minutes or so. You can turn the wings over midway through the cooking time if you'd like.

While wings are in the final bake, make the sauce.

4 T. unsalted butter
1 - 2 t. lemon pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium heat. Add the lemon pepper and vinegar and whisk to combine. Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place cooked wings in a large bowl. Slowly pour the Lemon Pepper Sauce over the wings and toss to coat. 

Preheat broiler.

Put the wings back onto the baking sheet and into the oven under the broiler for just a few minutes until the sauce begins to glaze. Watch Carefully...you don't want them to burn!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Slow Cooker Spicy Beef Tacos



There are several different ways to prep your protein of choice before cooking: 

Marinades generally include an oil, a vinegar, and seasonings. 

Dry rubs consist of different seasonings to incorporate the flavor profile you want.

Wet rubs are a mix between the two. They are more of a wet paste that is applied and allowed to permeate the protein for several hours or overnight.

For this dish, I prepared a wet rub, coated the chuck roast and put it in a large Ziploc bag overnight in the fridge. This morning, all I had to do was put it into the slow cooker, add beef broth, Rotel tomatoes, and canned green chilies and turn it on to cook all day. 

Follow the links in the recipe for more information and to order the products online.

1 - 3 lb. boneless chuck roast

Wet rub ingredients:
1 t. chili powder
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. onion powder
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. smoked (or regular) paprika
1/2 t. salt
1/2 freshly ground black pepper

1 can beef broth
1 can Rotel tomatoes (your choice of flavors!)
1 small can of diced green chilies

tortillas
taco sauce
sour cream
shredded cheese
diced avocados
shredded lettuce

In a small bowl, whisk together all the wet rub ingredients. Apply the wet rub to the chuck roast, completely covering the entire roast. Place roast in a large Ziploc bag and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

Place roast into slow cooker. Slowly pour in beef broth, Rotel tomatoes, and chilies. 

Cover and set to low heat for 8 - 10 hours or high for 6 - 8 hours. 

Remove the roast from the slow cooker and place on a large tray or baking sheet.


Using two forks shred the meat and either place back into the slow cooker with the juices to remain warm while serving or place on a serving tray and ladle some of the hot juices over the roast.


Serve with warmed tortillas and your favorite taco toppings.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lolly's Meatloaf with Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce


This meal ranks in my top five of "comfort food" meals. I've made meat loaves with white bread soaked in milk, bread crumbs, Italian bread crumbs, etc., but when I want the meat loaf of my childhood, my filler of choice is whole grain oats. Yes, oats.  As in the can with the Quaker man on the label. This is how my mama made meat loaf and sometimes this is exactly what I'm craving.

Granted, my mama always used ketchup with her version, but with leftover Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce in the fridge, I knew this was my condiment of choice for tonight's meal.

Another twist. Publix had packages of combination ground chuck and ground pork labeled "For Meatloaf." Of course, that's what I bought!

3/4 lb. ground chuck
3/4 lb. ground pork
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
3/4 cup whole grain oats
1 cup (divided) Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce (or your favorite sauce)
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray a loaf pan with non-stick spray.

In a large bowl, add all ingredients but ONLY 3/4 CUP BBQ SAUCE. Lightly mixed with a fork or your hands. Gently spoon into prepared loaf pan.

Bake for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and top with remaining BBQ sauce. Return to oven for 10-15 minutes. Bake until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

Let rest for 5 minutes before serving.




Rosemary Spiced Mixed Nuts


There's something so earthy and welcoming about rosemary. Instead of just eating mixed nuts straight from the can, take a half hour and make a batch of these delicious mixed nuts. Finely chop the rosemary! The addition of the rosemary olive oil adds a special depth to the flavor.

5 cups mixed nuts
5 T. finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 t. cayenne pepper
4 T. sugar
1 - 2 t. salt
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
Toss the nuts and rosemary in a medium mixing bowl. Heat the oil in small heavy saucepan over medium low heat until warm. Add the cayenne and stir until it is dissolved. Pour the oil mixture over the nut mixture. Sprinkle on the sugar and salt, and toss to coat everything evenly.
Bake in single layer on an ungreased baking sheet, stirring often, until the nuts are toasted and fragrant, about 20 minutes. Cool and store in an airtight container for 2 weeks. Please let me know if they actually last 2 weeks at your house!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Grilled Caribbean Jerk / Blood Orange Pork Burger with grilled pineapple slices


It was finally nice enough (weatherwise) this afternoon, to fire up the grill. We knew we wanted burgers, but what kind? I chose pork and we went from there. Although I'm not a fan of pineapple, I knew that would be a great addition to the Caribbean Jerk seasonings. A quick check of my available fused olive oils and I knew that the blood orange would pair perfectly with the seasonings.  Here we go!

1 1/2 lbs. ground pork
1/2 t. salt
1 t. McCormick's Perfect Pinch Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and shape into 5 or 6 patties. Cook on a preheated gas grill or charcoal grill. Cook until burgers are cooked through. Place buns on the grill and toast.

If desired, place pineapple slices onto the grill and let cook for 1 - 2 minutes per side.

For our burgers, I kept the condiments to a minimum to allow the citrusy goodness to shine. A light layer of whole grain mustard and mayo, a little Heinz 57, a few slices of red onion.....Perfection.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bourbon Maple Chicken Wings


We're continuing the fun of creating different flavors for chicken wings. For this version, I combined bourbon with Vermont Maple Balsamic Vinegar to create a deliciously sticky, gooey, messy sauce that I tossed the wings in after cooking. You'll definitely want to try this one. Have LOTS of extra napkins on hand!

For the wings:
1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 t. granulated garlic
2 lbs. chicken wings, separated, and tips removed

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Spray a large baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Combine dry ingredients listed above in a large bowl. Toss chicken wings in seasonings until fully coated and place on baking sheet. 

Place in oven and cook for 30 - 40 minutes. Increase heat to 400 degrees F. and cook for an additional 30 minutes or so. You can turn the wings over midway through the cooking time if you'd like.

While wings are in the final bake, make the sauce.

For the sauce:
2 T. unsalted butter
1 T. grated yellow onion
1/2 cup of bourbon whiskey
2 T. tomato paste
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat. Add the onion and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. 

Add the bourbon, vinegar, tomato paste, Worcestershire, oregano, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.

Simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Place cooked wings in a large bowl. Slowly pour the Bourbon Maple Sauce over the wings and toss to coat. 

Preheat broiler.

Put the wings back onto the baking sheet and into the oven under the broiler for just a few minutes until the sauce begins to glaze. Watch Carefully!

Serve with slaw or potato salad.

Enjoy!

Adapted from www.howtofeedaloon.com

Monday, March 13, 2017

Slow Cooker Country Styled Ribs with Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce


The local grocery store had country styled ribs on sale this week. It's not the time for grilling yet, but I knew they would be perfect for the slow cooker!

2 lbs. country styled ribs
salt
pepper
granulated garlic
dried onion

Set slow cooker to low setting. Season ribs with salt, pepper, and granulated garlic. Place into a slow cooker and sprinkle dried onion over the top of the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 8 - 10 hours.

30 minutes before ribs are ready, prepare Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce.

Preheat oven to 225 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil.

Carefully place ribs onto a baking sheet.

Using a basting brush gently coat the ribs with sauce and place in oven for 20 - 30 minutes to allow it to glaze onto the ribs.

Enjoy!


Garlic Espresso BBQ Sauce


This BBQ sauce recipe uses two of my favorite products from King's Olive Oil CompanyGarlic Olive Oil and Espresso Balsamic Vinegar.

The garlic olive oil is made from organic, slow roasted garlic which makes this extra virgin olive oil both pungent and sweet.  This olive oil is incredibly versatile. It can serve as a classic compliment to a grilled steak, can be added to pasta, roasted on chicken or flavor mashed potatoes.

The aged Espresso Balsamic Vinegar is amazingly complex, with layers of authentic espresso and dark roasted coffee. Our naturally flavored balsamic condiment is aged in the traditional Solera Method and comes from Modena, Italy. 

This BBQ sauce is very easy to make and will keep in the fridge for a few weeks. 

4 T. garlic olive oil
1/2 cup espresso vinegar
1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 cup brown sugar
salt and pepper to taste 

Mix ingredients in a medium saucepan on low heat. Simmer 10 minutes.

Recipe courtesy of  King's Olive Oil Company

Cottage Pie


Most of us are at least familiar, at least by name, with Shepherd's Pie. How about a Cottage Pie? In Ireland, a meat pie was the traditional Monday meal because it was made from the left over remnants of the Sunday roast. If you had lamb for dinner, it was a Shepherd's Pie. If you had beef, it was a Cottage Pie. The vegetables mixed in with the meat were, of course, the left over vegetables from the prior meal as were the mashed potatoes. If you'd like to add another depth of flavor add a little red wine to the sauce. If not, it's perfectly delicious as the recipe is written.

When you're ready to top with the mashed potatoes, you can pipe the potatoes through a pastry bag, smooth them on with a spoon and make swirls like you would with meringue, or do as I did and leave an opening in the middle of the pie. 

1 1/2 pounds of ground beef or ground lamb
1 medium onion, diced
1 large carrot, grated (or finely chopped)
1 t. chopped fresh thyme leaves
2 T. butter
2 T. all-purpose flour
2 T. tomato paste
1 cup beef stock
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup green peas (cooked, fresh, or frozen)
6 cups mashed potatoes
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and lightly grease a 3-quart casserole dish.

Brown the beef (or lamb) in a large skillet over medium heat, 8 - 10 minutes. Spoon off and discard fat. Push the meat to one side and cook the onion, carrot, and thyme for 5 - 6 minutes, until the onions are just turning translucent.

Push the onions and carrots to one side and melt the butter. Whisk the flour into the butter and then add in the tomato paste. Stir everything in the pan together.

Add the stock and Worcestershire and cook for 5 - 7 minutes, until thickened. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the peas.

Turn the meat into the prepared dish and spoon the potatoes on top. Run the tip of a fork over the potatoes to make furrow and peaks so it will brown nicely. If desire, sprinkle cheese on top. 

Bake for 20 minutes, until the filling is bubbling, and the potatoes are browned.


From Real Irish Food by Dave Bowers

Irish Soda Bread


This is a truly classic Irish (white) Soda Bread, no wheat flour here. This bread is almost cake like in texture. It's perfect to serve with a cup of tea or a bowl of soup!

You can either bake it on a rimless baking sheet or in a cast iron skillet for a very rustic bread.

Remember to wrap the bread in a clean dish towel as it cools. The steam will be trapped and that helps to soften the crust somewhat so that it isn't so hard.

3 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 - 3 T. sugar
1 1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 1/2 - 1 3/4 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and baking soda.

Stir in enough buttermilk to make stiff dough.

Lightly flour a rimless baking sheet and turn out the dough onto it and shape it into a large round.  Life it up onto a baking sheet and slash the surface with a sharp knife to make an "X" about an inch deep across the entire surface. OR you can place the dough into a greased cast iron skillet and, using the back of the spoon or spatula, smooth the dough. Follow instructions for marking with an "X."

Bake for 35 - 45 minutes, until golden and crusty.  A tester should only have a few crumbs clinging to it, and the bread should sound hollow when the bottom is tapped.  (If it doesn't, remove it from the baking sheet, turn it upside down directly on the oven rack and bake for 5 - 10 minutes more.)  

Remove from the oven and wrap it in a clean tea towel and leave it, wrapped, to cool on a wire rack.



From Real Irish Food  by David Bowers

Sunday, March 12, 2017

St. Patrick's Day 2017 - Mulligatawny Soup



The origin of this dish begins in India with the addition of curry as an ingredient. The word translates to "pepper water." The recipe for mulligatawny varied greatly over the years and I couldn't locate an original version. As the recipe migrated through the British Isles, meat was added to the pot.

This one will be making regular appearances on the rotation!

1 T. olive oil
1 lb. boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cooked and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 cups finely chopped carrots
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
3 cloves garlic, minced 
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 t. curry powder
1/4 t. ground nutmeg
3 cups chicken stock
1 cup milk
1 cup chopped, seeded tomato
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup uncooked rice
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. black pepper

Heat oil in a 3 - 4-quart Dutch oven over medium heat.

Add chicken, carrots, bele pepper, celery, onion, and garlic; cook and stir 5 minutes.

Sprinkle with flour, curry powder, and nutmeg; cook and stir 1 -2 minutes.

Add broth, milk, tomato, apple, rice, salt, and black pepper, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low; cover and cook for minutes or until rice is tender.



From Irish Favorites pilcookbooks.com

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Pork Chop Breakfast


This is one of my favorite breakfasts. The local grocery had "breakfast chops" on sale this week. These are thinly sliced pork chops which can be cooked in a matter of minutes, actually more quickly than you could fry some bacon slices. A light coating with seasoned flour is all they needed.

4 - 5 breakfast pork chops
1/2 cup self-rising flour
salt and black pepper to taste
3 - 4 T. vegetable oil

Mix flour with salt and pepper in a shallow plate. Lightly coat pork chops in flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Slowly add pork chops to skillet and cook 2 - 3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Serve immediately.



Thursday, March 9, 2017

Northern Italian Salad


I will admit I wasn't sure how all these disparate flavors would come together. I will tell you without hesitation this is one of the most delicious salads I've ever eaten. The crisp flavors of the greens, the saltiness of the prosciutto, the sweetness of the dates, the crunch of the walnuts, the creaminess of the mascarpone and blue cheese and then the ultimate flavor combination, the tartness of the cranberry pear balsamic and the richness of the walnut oil in the dressing.  This salad is sure to impress your friends.

Here are the stars of the dressing! Follow the links for more information and to order!



Roasted Walnut Oil


For the dressing:
2 T. cranberry pear vinegar
2 T. walnut infused olive oil
1 t. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup Mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/4 t. kosher salt
pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese

In a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mascarpone, walnut oil, salt, and pepper. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the crumbled gorgonzola. Let the dressing sit at room temperature for 10 minutes to let the flavors mingle, or refrigerate until ready to use. 

For the salad:
6 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped dates
8 thin slices prosciutto

In a large bowl, combine the radicchio, endive, kale, dates, and toasted walnuts. Add the dressing and toss gently until evenly coated. Ribbon the prosciutto on a serving platter and mound the salad on top. 



Adapted from Food Network Magazine


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Baked Southwestern Seasoned Wings served with Honey Chipotle Cilantro Dipping Sauce

I'm starting a new series of recipes!  Wing Wednesdays are here! There will be smoked wings, baked wings, grilled wings, and fried wings. There will be dry wings with dipping sauces and wet wings that are tossed and coated with a tasty sauce!

Feel free to comment and leave your suggestions for flavor combinations!  ☺

We're started out with a wing combination that packs a LOT of flavor in each bite. Southwestern flavors are combined to make the dry rub for coating the wings before baking and Chipotle Olive Oil is whisked with honey and lime juice for a very spicy dipping sauce!


Baked wings are much less greasy and fat-laden than the fried version. A low-temperature slow cook for 30 minutes or so to render the fat then a blast of really high heat for 40 minutes or so to crisp things up a bit, result in a really great wing in my opinion!

As always, when hot sauce and spices are concerned, use less for milder/kid friendly taste buds!

This recipe will make 2 1/2 - 3 lbs. of wings.

Rinse wings and pat dry.

In a small bowl, whisk together the following:

1 T. baking powder
2 t. salt
2 t. ground annatto powder
2 t. ground cumin
1 t. ground coriander
1 t. chili powder
1/2 t. ground cayenne
1 t. granulated garlic
1 t. onion powder
1/2 t. black pepper

Add dry rub mixture to a Ziploc bag or a larger bowl and toss with the wings until they are coated evenly.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Place a rack on a baking sheet and spray both with non-stick spray.

Place wings onto rack and baked on upper middle rack of oven for 25 - 30 minutes. 

Remove from oven and increase heat to 425 degrees F. Using tongs, turn wings over.

Return to oven and bake for another 25 - 30 minutes.

While wings are baking, prepare the dipping sauce OR you can toss the cooked wings in this mixture and serve "wet."

Chipotle Honey Lime Sauce

1/4 cup honey
2 T. lime juice
1 Serrano pepper, minced
1 T. minced garlic
2 T. finely chopped cilantro
1/2 t. salt

Whisk all ingredients together. Taste and add additional salt or Chipotle Olive Oil if needed for more heat, or more honey if you'd like a sweeter taste. 

Add cooked chicken wings to a large bowl and gently toss with the sauce using a spatula or serve on the side as a dip.

Cod Puttanesca


This recipe features another lovely olive oil from King's Olive Oil Company, Basil Infused Olive Oil.  The rich buttery flavor of this product is the perfect ingredient to help carry the basil flavor through the meal because not only is it used IN the sauce, but is also drizzled on the bread before toasting.

Puttanesca refers to a spicy tomato sauce that is simmered with garlic, herbs, and crushed red pepper flakes.

4 1-inch-thick slices ciabatta bread
3 T. Basil infused olive oil
2 T. chopped fresh oregano
2 T. chopped fresh basil
3 cloves garlic, lightly smashed
4 anchovy fillets
1 28-ounce can no-salt-added whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, halved
2 T. capers
Pinch of red pepper flakes
4 cod fillets (about 1 1/2 inches thick; 6 oz. each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the ciabatta on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon basil olive oil and sprinkle with 1 tablespoon each oregano and basil. Bake until golden brown, 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons basil olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and anchovies and cook, stirring often, until the garlic is golden and the anchovies break down, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juices and 1/2 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, stirring occasionally, until saucy, about 10 minutes. Stir in the olives, capers, red pepper flakes and the remaining 1 tablespoon each oregano and basil; simmer 2 minutes.
Season the fish with salt and pepper and arrange on top of the sauce in the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the fish is just cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Divide the bread among 4 shallow bowls; top with the fish and puttanesca sauce.


Adapted from Food Network Magazine

Monday, March 6, 2017

Spicy Chicken Scarpariello



This is yet another recipe that can fall under several categories. It's a low calorie and low carb meal, but it's also ready in about 40 minutes, so it's perfect for weeknights!

Scarpariello is traditionally a dish made with chicken and hot cherry peppers in a light sauce. I adapted this one and used jarred peppers with some dried red chili flakes instead to use ingredients I had on hand. I also added some capers because I love capers!

I chose Tuscan Herb Olive Oil for this recipe. The oil is an amazing blend of thyme, oregano, sun-dried tomatoes, and garlic infused olive oil.  


A nice side of roasted broccoli is the perfect side dish.

2 stalks broccoli (about 1 1/4 pounds), florets and tender stems chopped
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts (about 8 oz. each), flattened to 1/2" thickness
1 (10 oz. jar) flame roasted red peppers, liquid reserved
4 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 t. chopped fresh oregano
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 T. drained capers
3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 T. chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the broccoli with 1 T. of the Tuscan Blend Olive Oil, 1/2 t. salt and a few grinds of pepper on a baking sheet. Roast, stirring once, until tender and browned about 20 minutes.

While the broccoli roasts, we'll cook the chicken!

Season the chicken with salt and pepper.

Heat the remaining olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, turning, until browned, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate.


Add the red peppers, garlic, and oregano to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 3 minutes. Add 2 T. of the reserved pepper liquid and the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet.

Cook until reduced by half, 1 - 2 minutes. Add the crushed red pepper, capers, and the chicken broth. Nestle the chicken in the sauce and reduce the heat to medium. Cover and simmer until the chicken is cooked through 5 - 8 minutes.

Remove the chicken to a cutting board. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue simmering the sauce until slightly reduced, 2 - 3 minutes. Stir in the parsley and season with salt. Place chicken onto four plates and top with the sauce. Serve with the broccoli.



Adapted from Food Network Magazine.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

15 Bean Pasta E Fagioli

Pasta e Fagioli is a classic Italian soup made with pancetta, beans, and a small pasta. This version includes a prepackaged 15 dried soup mix where the beans are cooked separately and then added to a rich tomato, red wine, and chicken stock. This is a true comfort food soup.


The stars of this recipe include Basil Infused Olive Oil and Sicilian Lemon Balsamic Vinegar.


1 (1 lb.) bag 15 bean soup mix (discard seasoning packet)
2 T. Basil infused olive oil
6 oz. pancetta, 1/4 inch dice
1 large onion, chopped
1 T. minced garlic (3 - 4 cloves)
1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
4 - 6 cups chicken stock
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup miniature pasta (orzo, ditalini or tubettini)
1/2 cup freshly grated Italian Parmesan cheese (plus more for serving)
1 T. Sicilian Lemon white balsamic vinegar
Julienned fresh basil leaves

The day before you plan to make the soup, place the bean mix in a large bowl, add cold water to cover by 2 inches and refrigerate overnight. The next day, drain the beans, rinse under cold running water and drain again.

Place the beans in a large pot with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 1 hour. Stioccasionallyly and skim off any foam that rises to the top. The beans should be very tender.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a medium (7-quart) Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onion and saute over medium to medium-high heat for 12 - 18 minutes, until browned. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and saute for one minute.

Add the tomatoes, wine, 4 cups of the chicken stock, 1 T. salt, and 1 t. black pepper and turn off the heat.

Drain the beans and add thwo-thirds of them to the soup. Mash the remaining beans with a potato masher. stir the bean puree and the pasta into the soup, bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for 20 - 30 mintues, stirring occasionally until the pasta is tender.

Add up to 2 more cup of chicken stock if the soup is too thick. 

Stir in the Parmesan and Sicilian Lemon balsamic vinegar.

Ladle the soup into large shallow bowls and add a swirl of Basil olive oil, a sprinkle of Parmeasan and some of the basil. Serve hot with extra Parmesan on the side.

Adapted from Food Network Magazine Vol. 10, No. 2

Sunday Morning Smoked Bagel


This morning I decided I wanted a bagel for breakfast. Buttered? Toasted with cream cheese? Oh wait, there's a package of smoked salmon? This breakfast made itself in minutes.

Toast bagel and spread a "not so thin" layer of cream cheese over the entire surface.

Put a few pieces of smoked salmon on top of the cream cheese. Sprinkle the top with a finely diced red onion, a few capers, and thinly sliced chives or a little dill.  YUM!


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Dining Out Southeast: Linde Marie's Steakhouse on the Square, Cave Spring, GA

Today we ventured out for a road trip. We were in Cave Spring, Georgia just in time for a late lunch. This was our second visit to this restaurant and we were as pleased with the food and service as the prior meal.

We started with Fried Green tomatoes with their homemade ranch dip. These were served piping hot. I mean seriously, piping hot, which is a very good thing. Sometimes fried green tomatoes are so thinly sliced and so thickly breaded, the delicate balance is thrown off kilter. These were perfectly sliced AND breaded.  Thumbs up.


There were several daily specials available including country fried steaks, pork chops, etc. but once Sweet Harold saw the burger selection on the lunch menu, his decision was made. Well, not exactly. He then had to decide WHICH burger. We've heard of Slaw Dogs, Slaw on BBQ sandwiches, but the Slaw Burger was new to us. His decision was made. I managed to talk him into sharing a few bites. The burger was cooked to his requested level of medium. The slaw was mayo based, finely chopped and perfectly seasoned. The fries were hand cut and served hot.


I chose the Fish and Chips. The order included four nicely sized fillets of a lightly breaded mild white fish. Again, seasoned well and served with the choice of tartar or cocktail sauce. I chose both to be able to have a fair review. I enjoyed both, but the tartar sauce would win by a wee bit.


We were too full to enjoy any of the desserts.

If you're ever visiting the Cave Spring area, Linde Marie's Steakhouse on the Square is an excellent choice for lunch or dinner.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Kids' St. Patrick's Day Table 2017

One of my favorite holidays to decorate tables for is St. Patrick's Day! The little ones certainly enjoy the leprechauns, gold coins, and the shamrocks.