Fleur de Lis

Fleur de Lis

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Monday, August 14, 2017

Baked Red Snapper with Herb Gremolata

First things first.  What is a Gremolata you ask? Simply put, it's a cross between a condiment and a garnish. It adds that perfect "something" that some dishes need to take them from Excellent to Superb.

The three basic ingredients for a gremolata are garlic, parsley, and lemon. From there, you can add different herbs, as I did for this recipe or olive olive to make it more of a condiment.

I'm fortunate enough to have a bottle of Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil. You can guess what ingredients the olive oil is infused with:  garlic, lemon, parsley. This really amps up the flavor.

Let's make the Gremolata first:

1/3 cup finely chopped parsley
2 T. EACH finely chopped dill, tarragon, and chives
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil 
zest of one lemon
3 T. fresh lemon juice
2 t. minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl, combine the herbs, olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic; season to taste with salt and pepper.

Set aside while you cook the red snapper.

For the red snapper, you'll need:

1 - 1 1/2 lb. red snapper fillet
1 T. Milanese Gremolata Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking dish.

Score the skin of the fish and make sure it is completely dry. Rub the fish lightly with the olive oil and season well with salt and pepper.

Place in oven and bake 16 - 18 minutes or internal temperature reaches 145 degrees F. The cooking time will depend on how thick a fillet you have.

Transfer to plates and top with herb gremolata. Serve with lemon wedges.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Ginger Chicken Mushroom Soup with Rice Noodles

I'm a little under the weather with allergies. So much so I've lost my voice which may or may not be a good thing.

I knew chicken soup would definitely make me feel better. But, as normally happens with my food based brain, I immediately started thinking of how I could make a different variation.

Asian flavors came to mind and I hope you'll be as pleased with this one as I was.  It definitely made me feel better inside and out.

If you don't want to use chicken, this soup would be delicious with shrimp or tofu instead. Simply alter the chicken stock with vegetable stock.

I began by making a marinade for the chicken. Using a blend of Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar and Garlic Olive Oil as the base, the chicken is already full of flavor before adding it to the flavorful soup base to cook. 

3 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar
3 T. Garlic Olive Oil
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. dried red pepper flakes
1/4 t. anise seeds
2 boneless, skinless chicken thighs 
12 cups chicken stock
1 T. minced garlic
4 green onions, white and some green, thinly sliced (thinly slice the darker green tops and reserve)
2 t. grated fresh ginger
2 T. soy sauce
4 oz. mixed mushrooms (I used baby portabellas, oyster, shiitake)
1 medium bok choy (remove hard bulb end, dice the white part, thinly slice the greens)
6 oz. rice noodles, broken up into a few sections
1 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar

Toppings:  Sesame oil, thinly sliced green onions, black and/or white sesame seeds, dried red pepper flakes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar, olive oil, ginger, salt, red pepper flakes, and anise seeds. Place chicken into marinade and, using tongs, turn chicken until completely coverd with marinade. Cover and place in refrigerator for several hours.

Remove chicken from refrigerator, and dice into 1/2" inch pieces discarding any fat on chicken.

Bring chicken stock to a gentle boil in a large Dutch oven. Add garlic, onions, ginger, and diced chicken. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Let cook for 20 - 30 minutes.

Add soy sauce, mushrooms, prepared bok choy. Let cook for 5 minutes. 

Add rice noodles and let simmer for 7 - 8 minutes. Add the final tablespoon of Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar right before removing from heat.

Ladle into individual bowls and top with your choice of a drizzle of Sesame Oil, thinly sliced green onions, black and/or white sesame seeds, dried red pepper flakes.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Wing Wednesdays: Old Bay Wings

This has been a very hectic week. I missed Wing Wednesdays, so this week you've had to wait until Friday! The concensus is this is one of our favorite wings so far! Don't neglect the fresh citrus squeeze at the end. It adds the perfect POP.

Three ingredients, 5 minutes prep, and the wings are in the oven cooking! 

1 1/2 lbs. chicken wings, separated, tips removed
olive oil
Old Bay Seasoning

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Place wings in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Using tongs, toss wings until completely coated with the olive oil.

Next, LIBERALLY season with Old Bay Seasoning. Again, use the tongs to toss the wings. You want a nice heaving coating of the seasoning.

Place the wings in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 - 35 minutes until wings are cooked through to an internal temp of 165 degrees F.

Place on a serving plate or tray and serve with lemon and/or lime wedges.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Lunch with Gadsden Style Magazine

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be featured in an article for Gadsden Style Magazine. The menu for our lunch is pictured above.

The pictures to follow are of the table for our luncheon. When your name is Fleur de Lolly what are you going to use for your table accents besides the iconic Fleur de Lis?  The Spode china made an appearance along with a new table runner that was a Mother's Day gift this year.

I was pleased with the results. We had a lovely afternoon!


Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry

Broccoli is probably Sweet Harold's favorite vegetable. He requested Beef and Broccoli this week and I thought it would be a good meal for a Monday! I mixed up a very easy marinade and 20 minutes later, we're ready to cook.

The sauce includes Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar which provides a little sweetness from the honey, plus an extra layer of ginger flavor. 

For the marinade:
1 T. cornstarch
2 T. water
1 T. Garlic Olive Oil
1 T. grated fresh ginger
1 t. minced garlic
2 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar 
1/2 t. dried red pepper flakes
1 lb. boneless round and flank steak, cut into thin 3 inch strips

In a large bowl, combine the cornstarch, water, garlic olive oil, ginger, minced garlic, and Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar. Add the beef and mix until the beef is completely coated. Set aside for at least 15 minutes.

For the stir fry:
1 T. sesame oil 
1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
1 T. minced garlic
4 cups broccoli florets

For the sauce:
1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup water
1 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar 
1 t. grated fresh ginger
2 t. cornstarch

Heat 1 T. sesame oil in a large skillet or wok on medium high heat. Add beef and stir fry for 3 - 5 minutes or until it's not longer pink. Remove from pan and set aside.

In the same pan, stir fry the onions, garlic, and broccoli in the remaining oil for 3 - 5 minutes. Return beef to pan.

In a small bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the sauce and pour it into the pan. Stir fry for 2 - 3 minutes or until everything is fully combined and sauce has thickened.

Serve over hot rice or noodles. Garnish with chopped green onions and/or sesame seeds.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Chicken with Creamy Wild Mushroom Sage Sauce

I've been intrigued with the combination of Mushrooms and Sage for a long time. When I came across an olive oil flavored with Wild Mushrooms and Sage, I knew it was one I had to try. When I opened the bottle, the aroma was tantalizing. I used two boneless skinless chicken breasts and two boneless skinless thighs. You can mix and match if you wish, just use about 1 - 1 1/2 lbs. of chicken.

The marinade adds amazing flavor and tenderizes the chicken and helps to keep it moist. Don't skip that step, please.

While the chicken is cooking, you can make the sauce. I served over a mixed grain medley. You could certainly use rice or noodles.

For the marinade:

1 t. salt
1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper

Whisk all ingredients together in a small mixing bowl. Place chicken in a large Ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Carefully seal and turn bag over several times to make sure chicken is coated. Refrigerate for several hours.

Let's cook!

Heat 1 T. of Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Place chicken in hot skillet and cook, turning occasionally, for 8 - 10 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees F.

While the chicken is cooking, let's make the sauce:

2 T. Wild Mushroom and Sage Olive Oil
1 T. butter
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
8 oz. baby portabella mushroom, thickly sliced
1 t. chopped fresh parsley
1 t. minced garlic
1 cup dry white wine
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
3 T. chopped fresh sage

Add the olive oil and butter to a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onions and saute for one minute. Add mushrooms and parsley and saute 7 - 8 minutes or until mushrooms have browned and softened. Add the garlic during the last minute of cooking. Add a few sprinkles of salt.

Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Scrape up any bits that may be sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Stir in the cream and lower the heat to a simmer. Let simmer for 3 - 5 minutes or until the sauce is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.

Stir the nutmeg and sage into the sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed. Pour the sauce over the chicken.

Serve over rice or noodles.

Baklouti Bites

If you're a spicy food fan, here's a little nibble that will be perfect for you. I've been wanting to try this recipe for weeks, and finally took the time this afternoon to mix up a batch. If you're unfamiliar with Baklouti Peppers, here's a little information. The Tunisian Baklouti pepper is rare and unique to the Barbary Coast of North Africa. It's flavor mellows as it is cooked.

4 eggs
1/2 cup chopped pickled jalapenos
8 oz. freshly shredded Cheddar cheese (please don't use pre-shredded)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Whisk eggs and add other ingredients. Pour into greased  9 x 9-inch casserole dish and bake 15 - 20 minutes. Check after 15 minutes. It's done when it is set in the middle and a knife inserted into the center of dish comes out clean.

Cool and cut into squares. Best eaten at room temperature. Top with chopped tomatoes, cilantro, and/or sour cream, if desired.

Recipe courtesy of King's Olive Oil

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Wing Wednesday: Asiago Roasted Garlic Chicken Wings

For this week's wing flavor combination, I went no further than my pantry. A few weeks ago, I purchased several dip/salad dressing mixes from Elizabeth's Gourmet Creations. You can find her selections on Facebook.  Instead of making a dip or salad dressing, I used the Asiago Roasted Garlic mix to coat the chicken wings. The flavors are subtle and didn't overpower the chicken wings. 

2 1/2 lbs. chicken wings
Olive oil
1 package Elizabeth's Gourmet Creations Asiago and Roasted Garlic Dip Mix

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.

Place chicken wings in a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat.

Sprinkle the dip mix over the chicken wings and toss to completely coat the wings.

Place the chicken wings on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

If needed, place under the broiler to get a nice crispy brown wing.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Blood Orange Pork Lettuce Wraps

These beautiful lettuce wraps are a cinch to make. You can definitely use ground chicken or turkey as a substitute for the ground pork. These wraps make a wonderful low-carb, high protein lunch or dinner. The filling reheats easily.

The tart/sweet taste of the blood orange pairs great with the pork. Then the added layers of flavor from the honey ginger balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and the complimentary orange blossom honey? Oh, it all blends together PERFECTLY!

Make the sauce first, and while it simmers and reduces, brown the vegetables and the ground pork.

For the sauce:
2 T. soy sauce
3 T. orange blossom honey
2 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar

In a small saucepan, over low heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and let sauce reduce until mixture becomes thick, about 5 minutes or so. Remove from heat.

For the filling:
1 T. minced garlic
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
1 lb. ground pork
1 carrot, grated
4 oz. diced water chestnuts
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. dried red pepper flakes

In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, add the olive oil, garlic, onions, and bell peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 - 4 minutes until vegetables begin to soften.

Add pork, breaking up with a wooden spoon, and allow to cook until no pink remains. 

Add carrots, water chestnuts, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Stirring frequently, cook for an additional 5 minutes or so.

Add the sauce to the pork and vegetables, stirring to combine, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and allow another 2 - 3 minutes of cooking time. Check taste and add additional salt if necessary.  A few grinds of black pepper would be great as well.
At this point, you can assemble your lettuce wraps, or let mixture cool and refrigerate. You basically have another dinner ready to go in your fridge for a hurried meal during the week, or to pack in lunches. To reheat, simply place in a skillet over low heat and allow to heat through.

So now to assemble the wraps:

Place a small spoonful of the pork mixture into a piece of curly leaf lettuce. Top with diced seedless cucumber, chopped cilantro, sesame seeds, and/or thinly sliced green onions. 

Have soy sauce, hoisin sauce, or duck sauce available for toppings as well. OR, forget those and lightly drizzle some toasted sesame oil on top!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Honey Ginger Stir Fry Vegetables

I made this dish to pair with the Grilled Honey Ginger Chicken Breasts.

I have to tell you, the more I look at this picture, the hungrier I get! All the bright colors are so inviting, aren't they? I'll share the vegetables I used, but use whatever you have on hand.

2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow squash, diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 cup broccoli florets
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 oz. diced water chestnuts
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 t. dried red pepper flakes
a sprinkling of black sesame seeds for garnish

Preheat garlic olive oil over high heat in a wok or large skillet until oil shimmers.

Add garlic and let cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the vegetables and, cook stirring constantly, for 2 - 3 minutes. You want the vegetables to be tender-crisp, mushy! During the last 30 seconds of cooking, add salt, pepper, dried red pepper flakes and drizzle with the Honey Ginger Vinegar.

Remove from heat and serve immediately. Garnish with a sprinkling of black sesame seeds.

Grilled Honey Ginger Chicken Breasts

This is an extremely simple recipe for a delicious marinade that can be prepped in minutes. Many recipes for Asian style marinades have honey AND rice wine vinegar as ingredients. This recipe simplifies that step because it uses one of my favorite standbys in the kitchen:  Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar.  

Adjust the heat level by increasing or decreasing, the Sriracha amount. And yes, there's mayonnaise in the marinade. It really helps to keep the chicken moist and tender.

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 2 T. Sriracha
3 T. Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar
2 T. mayonnaise
2 T. soy sauce
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. ground black pepper
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. dried red pepper flakes 

In a medium bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, Sriracha, Honey Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, mayonnaise, soy sauce, salt, pepper, and dried red flakes.

Place the chicken breasts in a large Ziploc bag. Add the marinade and seal the bag, and turn the chicken over a few times to completely coat. Place in refrigerator and marinate for 1 - 3 hours.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill to reach medium high heat. Spray the grates with non-stick spray. Place the chicken breasts on the grill and discard remaining marinade. Cook the chicken for 5 - 7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and a little pickled ginger, if desired.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Betty's Fried Apple Pies

Who could imagine that something as simple as dough, apples, and love could produce a treat such as the one pictured above? Anyone who knows my mother, and who has been fortunate enough to be a recipient of one of these fried apple pies knows exactly of which I speak!

She was gracious enough to share her recipe with me and doubly gracious enough to give me permission to share with all of you. You've been given a wonderful gift! Trust me, I know.

Here's Miss Betty's recipe as written by her own self.  

The apples need to be prepared ahead of time and refrigerated overnight. The reason for this step is if the apple mixture is warm when it's put into the pastry, the pastry will tear during the frying process. A nice chilled mixture spooned into the dough will hold together well.

For the filling:
4 large Granny Smith apples, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 T. unsalted butter
2/3 cup water
a dash each of cinnamon and nutmeg

In a skillet, add all ingredients and cook apples over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook until apples are tender. Place in refrigerator overnight.

To make the pastry:
5 - 6 heaping T. flour
1/3 cup shortening
4 - 5 T. water or milk

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl, stirring until well combined and soft dough forms. On a floured surface, roll out dough to a thickness of about 1/4".  Place a small saucer onto the dough and using a sharp knife, cut out dough around saucer as your guide. 

Fill the circle with 1 T. of cold apple mixture. Fold over and crimp edges with a fork to seal completely. Repeat with remaining dough and apples.

Using a large cast iron skillet, add enough vegetable oil to have a 1 to 1 1/2 inch depth of oil.  Heat over medium high heat until a bit of the dough dropped into the oil sizzles. Carefully place a few pies into oil at a time. As one side browns, turn pies over to finish cooking the other side. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with remaining pies.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Chicken Creole

This great recipe is from the Joyce White cookbook entitled Soul Food:  Recipes and Reflections from African-American Churches. I made a few changes, but the flavors will remain the same. Instead of using a whole cut-up chicken, I had six boneless skinless chicken thighs. I cut them into 1-inch chunks for browning and braising. I used two cans of diced tomatoes. Instead of leaving the okra pods whole, I cut them into 1/4 inch slices. I also added about 1/2 t. Creole seasoning.

This quote is taken from directly from the cookbook because I wanted you to know about the woman who originally submitted the recipe. 

"Patrica Butler is an associate minister at the First Missionary Baptist Church in Handsboro, Mississippi, on the Gulf Coast. She is also a licensed chaplain and is just as likely to conduct a Bible study at the local jail as she is at a drug addict's home.

Pastor Butler is also a fine cook, and whenever the church holds a barbecue or picnic, she arrives with a covered dish. The food of the Gulf Coast is a melange of many ethnic influences:  Cajun, Creole, African, and European, and it is savory and delicious. Rev. Butler sends this recipe for a chicken dish made with okra, an indigenous vegetable of Africa."

1 chicken (3 1/4 lbs.) or 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1" chunks
1/2 pound smoked sausage (I use Conecuh brand)
1 onion, sliced
3 - 4 tomatoes (or 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes)
2 - 3 cloves garlic, minced
3 - 4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1/2 t. dried thyme
2 T. vegetable oil
1/4 t. cayenne
2 cups chicken broth
1/2 pound fresh or frozen okra
1/2 t. Creole seasoning
chopped parsley for topping
Optional:  your favorite hot sauce

Cut the chicken into serving sized pieces, the breasts into halves, the legs and thighs separated, plus the wings for a total of 8 pieces. Rinse the chicken well under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Trim away any visible fat from the chicken and discard.

Cut the sausage into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onion; coarsely chop the tomatoes, and mince the garlic. Chop the fresh thyme or crush the dried herb.

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. (I use a cast iron Dutch oven.) Add the chicken a few pieces at a time, and brown over medium-high heat. Remove from the pot and brown the remaining chicken the same way; removing when brown.

When the chicken is browned, add the sausage and saute 4 - 5 minutes, turning to brown evenly.

Stir in the onions and garlic.

Add the tomatoes, thyme, and cayenne. Saute 2 - 3 minutes , stirring. Add the chicken pieces back into the pot. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the chicken is almost done. 

Cut off and discard the woody end tips of the fresh okra. Stir the pods or the okra slices into the pot and cook 20 minutes longer or until the okra is tender and the chicken is done.

Serve over cooked rice and top with freshly chopped parsley. 

Social Media

Just a reminder, I'd love for you to follow me on Instagram and join me on Facebook. We have a great time sharing and enjoying food and recipes together!

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lolly's Sweet Heat BBQ Sauce

Sweet Harold smoked a Boston butt over the weekend. We've been enjoying it this week with different side dishes. Hmmmm.  No BBQ Sauce? No problem. A quick trip to the pantry and I was ready to make some BBQ Sauce!

I'm not a huge fan of really smoky flavored sauces. My true love for BBQ sauces are vinegar based. But with the smoke flavor already prevalent in the pork, I decided a thick version with a little sweetness and a subtle heat would be perfect. This one came together from my brain to the simmer pot in about 10 minutes. An additional 15 - 20 minutes of simmering and it was ready to go!

The sweetness is courtesy of light brown sugar and the heat is from Baklouti Green Chili Oil.  A touch of Serrano Honey Balsamic Vinegar to the batch added another bit of sweetness AND heat.

1/4 cup finely minced onion
1/4 t. salt
1/4 t. pepper
1 heaping t. minced garlic
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 cup ketchup
2 T. Worcestershire sauce

In a medium saucepan, heat the chili oil over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, salt, and pepper and, stirring occasionally, cook for 5 - 6 minutes.  

Reduce the heat to low and add the brown sugar. Stir, until sugar dissolves. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and Serrano Honey Balsamic. 

Simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 - 30 minutes. Refrigerate unused portion.

Doesn't that look great?

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Wing Wednesday: Blood Orange and Bourbon Glazed Wings

This recipe has so many varied ingredients. Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil is paired with bourbon, orange blossom honey, chili powder, and of all things, a little cinnamon to create a delicious and VERY sticky glaze.  

2 lbs. chicken wings, separated and tips removed
salt and pepper
1/4 cup Blood Orange Fused Olive Oil
1/4 cup your favorite bourbon
2 T. orange blossom honey
1 T. soy sauce
1 t. chili powder
1/4 t. dried chili flakes
1/4 t. ground cinnamon
juice of one lemon

Rinse wings and pat them dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, add Blood Orange Olive Oil over medium high heat. Brown chicken in batches, placing on a plate while you cook the remaining wings.

Lower heat to medium low. Add bourbon to skillet and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Add remaining ingredients, stirring frequently, and allow the mixture to begin to thicken.

Return the chicken wings to the skillet, turning to coat them completely. Let chicken finish cooking while they glaze. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F. before you remove from heat.

Place the wings on a serving tray and pour remaining glaze over wings.  Serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of King's Olive Oil Company.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Grilled Greek Chicken served with Rosemary Spinach and Quinoa with Brown Rice

This is an extremely easy weeknight dinner. Marinade time is about 30 minutes or so. You can either grill the chicken outdoors or in a grill pan indoors. Rosemary, garlic, and lemon pair well with chicken. You can use either boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs. I had thighs in the freezer and they were moist and flavorful in this dish.

You can serve this dish with either roasted potatoes and a salad. I'm cutting down on carbs this week, so for tonight's meal, I sauteed spinach and made quinoa with brown rice.

Here's the marinade:
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. black pepper
1 t. Greek seasoning
1/2 t. dried thyme
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1 T. minced garlic
Juice of one large lemon
1 T. red wine vinegar

Whisk together all ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Place four boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs (about 1 - 1 1/2 lbs.) in a large Ziploc bag. Pour the marinade in, seal securely and turn the bag over a few times to make sure chicken is evenly coated. Let chicken marinate for 30 minutes - 2 hours.

Preheat an outdoor grill to medium high heat. Spray the grates with nonstick cooking spray. Place the chicken on the grill and discard any leftover marinade Cook the chicken for 5 - 7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Remove from grill and let rest for a few minutes.

To make the spinach:

Remove stems from a large bag of baby spinach. Heat 2 T. Rosemary Olive Oil over medium high heat in a large skillet. Add 1 T. minced garlic. Let garlic cook for a minute or so stirring frequently. Add baby spinach a few handfuls at a time, adding more as it begins to wilt. Continue adding spinach until it has cooked down. Sprinkle with 1 - 2 t. Greek seasoning. Right before serving, add the juice of 1/2 lemon. Stir to combine.

Dining Out Southeast: Cantina Laredo, Birmingham, AL x 3

Why the x 3 in the title of this blog post? Because we've dined there three times in the last month. Twice for dinner and once for brunch. So, you're going to get three reviews in one blog post.  I hope I do the food justice here. 

Cantina Laredo creates authentic Mexican food inspired by the cuisine of Mexico City and adds a modern twist. 

Let's start with the first dinner. Other diners enjoyed flavored margaritas, but I went with their signature version, the Casa Rita, which is a blend of Giro Silver Tequila by Sauza, Cointreau and fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juices.  $8.00.  Very smooth margarita with a fresh citrus flavor.

While we navigated the extensive menu, we munched on hot and crispy chips and sampled the two salsa which were thick and flavorful with roasted peppers and tomatoes.

Our group ordered the combination guacamole and queso appetizer. $9.49.  Due to my avocado allergy, I didn't try the guac, but everyone gave their approval. I enjoyed the spiciness of the queso. It was served very hot as expected. There's also an option to have the guacamole prepared tableside with the choice of ingredients to be selected by the diners.

Sorry for the blurriness of this picture. Sometimes reaching across the table to photograph the meal of a hungry friend isn't as easy as one would think.

Chicken chimichanga:  Flour tortilla filled with fajita chicken, poblano pepper, chipotle wine sauce and cheese, flash fried and topped with choice of ranchera sauce or chili con quesoranchera sauce and queso fresco  $12.49

Of everything on this plate, the chipotle wine sauce is what was discussed for several days after our meal! The chicken chimi was flavorful with a good balance of chicken and fillings. The heat level was medium.

Veracruz Enchiladas:  Two enchiladas filled with pulled chicken, spinach and Monterey Jack, topped with tomatillo sauce, marinated vegetables and queso fresco $12.99 The combination of chicken, spinach and Monterey Jack cheese is always a personal favorite of mine. I almost ordered this one, but a friend beat me to it. He did let me have a sample, and it was as I expected, perfection.

And now look at this delicious plate! This Steak Fajita Burrito could have easily fed two people. A flour tortilla filled with Certified Angus Beef skirt steak, refried beans roasted poblano pepper and chipotle wine sauce, topped with chili con queso, tomato and cilantro. We all shared a few bites. The steak was tender, cooked perfectly and well seasoned.  $12.99

And now, at last, my choice. Carnita Tacos $14.49  Three corn tortillas filled with braised and pulled pork shank topped with chipotle wine sauce, Monterey Jack, roasted red bell peppers, queso fresco and chopped cilantro. I'll admit it here and now. I could have another plate of these delicious tacos. If you don't care for cilantro, make sure you tell them to omit from your order, but since I am a huge fan, I was in love.

Even though we were all stuffed, we opted to share a dessert. Mango Tres Leches $7.29 Creamy mango vanilla cake with mango cream sauce. PLEASE try this dessert. The cake was light and airy, but at the same time rich and flavorful with mangos.

And now.....brunch!

Once again, we were presented chips with two salsas as soon as we were seated.

Brunch entrees include a Mimosa, Bloody Maria or non-alcoholic beverage of your choice. The mimosa is made with fresh-squeezed orange juice. The Bloody Maria is made with Casa Noble organic tequila and our Bloody Mary is made with Tito's Handmade Vodka.

I had the Bloody Mary which was spicy, but not served with all the usual garnishments you'd expect. In fact, I didn't even remember to take a picture. Sweet Harold chose the Bloody Maria. I did notice that behind the bar there was a bottle of Zing Zang bloody mary mix, which is my favorite.

Harold chose the Chicken Fajita Omelet. $13.29 This one had to have 4 eggs! And yes, he brought half home for breakfast the next day. Isn't that plate just gorgeous? The omelet was filled with all the fixings for a fajita with a perfect balance of chicken and vegetables. The chipotle wine sauce we all raved about with the last meal? It made another appearance here!

Bottom left is a serving of fried potatoes in a creamy sauce and topped with queso fresco.

I can turn down crab cakes or eggs benedict if their own the menu. No exception here and I'm so glad I chose them. $15.79 Poached eggs on crab cakes topped with chipotle-wine hollandaise sauce, crumbled bacon and queso fresco

The crab cakes were packed with crab and little filler which is a very good thing.

Apologies for the blurriness of this one. But, wowza, it was delicious!

Each plate had a serving of fresh fruit nestled in a mini-sopapilla shell. This was the perfect ending after the rich brunch selections.

Now on to Dinner #2!

I repeated my beverage choice from Dinner #1.

And because I loved the carnita tacos so much the first time, I knew I wanted to try the Carnita Sliders. $8.49  Two sliders of seasoned pulled pork with goat cheese and apricot jam. Served with jalape├▒o laced Mexican fries. The tartness of the goat cheese and apricot jam cut the richness of the pork. I fell in love with these at first bite. The fries were the usual french fries with the addition of fried onion and jalapeno slices mixed into the mix.

Because we're all in the middle of Carnita Love, Sweet Harold chose the Carnitas as well.  $19.99 Braised pork shanks topped with chipotle wine sauce (!!) served with seasonal vegetables and Mexican rice. The pork literally fell off the bone it was so tender.

Cantina Laredo has locations in many cities. If there's one near you, have a wonderful night out with friends or enjoy a brunch that will see you through a busy Sunday afternoon!