Friday, December 9, 2016

Meal No. 1701: Not So Cajun Chicken

With an early winter cold continuing to be my primary battle early in the week, I was content to make the Tuesday supper easy and comforting. The highly-favorited and long-standing stand-by of Roediger House meals was the choice: not so cajun chicken. With enough for leftovers!

"Not So Cajun Chicken," a dish I regularly enjoyed at Crowley's Old Time Favorites restaurant and bar on Medlin Drive in Raleigh, NC. Credit to Jimmy Randolph for helping track it down. (Another version of the recipe can be found here.)

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Meal No. 1700: Potato and Cheese Soup

On Sunday night, on the first day of a brutal cold that hit me along with the rainy cold weather, I wanted to still forge ahead with dinner plans with Amy and Gern...a visit with them is sure to make an old man feel better. Of course, Gern took no mercy on the pool table in the pre-dinner hang-out time, and bested me by a menacing 1-4 score. So I retreated to the kitchen, tail between my legs, and later brought out a warm and comforting pot of potato and cheese soup.

"Potato and Cheese Soup," shared with me by my sister and her husband, who got it through a cooking class at KitchenArt in West Lafayette, Indiana.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Meal No. 1699: 2 x 2 Soup

Last Saturday night, when good neighbor Alaina was up for an evening visit, the dinner table was set with two-by-two soup. It seemed fitting for the chill and gray of this Christmas Parade evening.

Later in the evening, I managed to make a fresh batch of chai-spiced oatmeal cookies appear, pleasantly enhanced with cinnamon morsels. Straight out of the oven, those rascals are quite delicious. And they are all the better because they are completely and totally lacking in raisins.

Based on: "Caramel-Chai Oatmeal Cookies," in Cuisine at Home, September/October 2013, p. 47.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Meal No. 1698: One-Pan Pork Tenderloin & Roasted Vegetables

It was a great Friday night at the Roediger House, in part because my dear childhood friend Jay Brown was here for dinner, pool, and an overnighter. I'm always glad when he can break away from his amazing wife Tracy and I know it's hard for him to leave his precious son Emmett. I went with one-pan pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables because it allowed more time for us to visit and talk without me fretting over a bunch of dinner prep.

By early Saturday afternoon, he had to head back to Raleigh, given that he and his band Tonk had a gig to play that night:

A photo posted by tonknc (@tonknc) on

"One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans and Potatoes," by Christie Morrison. In Cook's Country, October/November 2015, p. 27.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Meal No. 1697: Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Mustard

On the first day of December, the Roediger House meal was pasta with Italian sausage in a mustard cream sauce with basil...and it did the trick.

"Pasta with Sausage, Basil, and Mustard," by Nigel Slater and published in Food & Wine, September 2002.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Meal No. 1696: Chicken Tikka Masala

Last Tuesday, I kept it low-key with an easy skillet-based weeknight version of chicken tikka masala. It passed muster without being fantastic, truth be told.

"Chicken Tikka Masala," from Cook's Country, October/November 2014, centerfold recipe cards.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Meal No. 1695: Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta

This past Monday was a great day spent with the admin team at Cook Literacy Model School. We put in a good long day, though, and I was in the mood for a simpler meal that night when Amy and Gern were over to partake. But I wanted to try something new, so I looked at two different recipes for Bang Bang shrimp pasta and came up with a one-bowl meal for us to enjoy. And enjoy it we did.

Recipe based on "Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta!"from Lisa M. of My Incredible Recipes blog; and "Bang Bang Shrimp Pasta" by Chungah on the Damn Delicious blog.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Meal No. 1694: Grilled Center Cut Pork Chops

As the holiday weekend wound down this past Sunday night, I turned to a simple meal so that opportunities for pool-playing could be preserved. Creole spice-rubbed center cut pork chops got the grill treatment; sweet potatoes were baked to mushy goodness; and Caesar salad brought the green in.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Meal No. 1693: Simple Beef Chili with Beans

I reckon it's not yet time to put aside the holiday week group dinner gatherings, because this past Saturday night, it was another delightful crew of six on hand for supper. Since the weather has turned again, and we've left behind the 70-degree days at the end of the week, I had a hankering for simple beef chili and some delicious sweet cornbread. We all made the best of it and ended the night with full bellies.

"Simple Beef Chili with Kidney Beans," from Cook's Illustrated, Number Sixty-One [March-April 2003], p. 10-11.

"Golden Sweet Cornbread," from bluegirl on

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Meal No. 1692: Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts

While I think we all feasted pretty well on Thanksgiving night, the spirit of camaraderie  and fellowship had not left us. When Friday night rolled around, members of the cast of regulars gathered again for pool playing, music, hanging out...and another meal at the Roediger House table.

On the menu: braised chicken over Brussels sprouts and shallots, together with some pretty delicious Southern creamed corn. Nobody asked about dessert afterwards.

On a side note: the weather finished our really nice this week, with warm temps these last couple of days. Once again, I took evil delighted pleasure in sharing with my sister the contrast between temps here in Winston versus up in Indiana, where she lives:

"Braised Chicken and Brussels Sprouts," in Everyday Food, Issue 97, November 2012, p. 22.

"Southern Creamed Corn," by Patrick and Gina Neely of the Food Network.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Meal No. 1691: Thanksgiving 2016

This year's intimate gathering around the kitchen table for seven of us was yet another special and memorable Thanksgiving holiday. The turkey breast was exceptionally tender but everything on our high-piled plates was darned tasty. Good food, good friends, laughter, and the dreadfully unexpected appearance of a sad pancake...but we feasted well and finished glad that it's only a month until the Christmas Eve Eve repeat of this fine meal.

Roasted Beef Tenderloin

Layered Green Bean Casserole
(beautiful serving dish holder: gift of The Lloyds!)

Herb-Roasted Breast of Turkey

Apple & Bacon Stuffing

All of the Above
plus sweet potato casserole

"Oven-Roasted Turkey Breast," Betty Crocker: Holiday Entrées, Sides, Brunches, & More, November 2001, p. 22-23.

"Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce" (p. 296) and "Spicy Horseradish Sauce" (p. 295), from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook. Compiled and Edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Oxmoor Press (2006).

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

"Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Topping," from Southern Living Slow-Cooker Cookbook,  (Oxmoor House, 2006), p. 234-235.

"Cornbread Stuffing with Apples and Bacon," from David Venable. Found online.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Meal No. 1690: Thanksgiving Morn Sleepover Breakfast

It was a festive holiday week at the Roediger House, and that included not only the usual big fun gathering Thanksgiving Eve, but also yet another slumber party for some great house regulars. I figured I'd best have something to snack on when we all got up, so with two pots of coffee brewed, I was able to serve up party ham biscuits and traditional sausage balls.

"Party Ham Biscuits," a recipe shared with our family by Susan Brown, who was my sister Allison's college chum at the University of North Carolina. I recorded Susan's in my recipe collection in 1988. There are various versions of this recipe, of course. Pretty popular is the "caramelized" version, such as this one: "Caramelized Ham & Swiss Buns," by Iris Weihemuller of Baxter, MN, in Taste of Home, December 2013, p. 59. For the horseradish sauce, I turned to the one I make for the "Beef Tenderloin in Wine Sauce" recipe that was part of the Thanksgiving meal that night.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Meal No. 1689: World's Best Lasagna for Thanksgiving Eve

With nine on hand for the annual Roediger House Thanksgiving Eve gathering, when pool and games and music and beer occupy the lot of us, I turned to John Chandler's much-loved and quite popular recipe for lasagna. There was some concern that this was too heavy a meal the night before the Thanksgiving feast, but I considered it to be excellent training to prepare us for all that we would consume the following day.

I even made freshly grated parmesan cheese to go in the lasagna and on it:

"World's Best Lasagna," by John Chandler (Dallas, TX). Found online at

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Meal No. 1688: New Year's Day Meatballs

With seven of us for dinner at the start of our holiday mood last Tuesday night, I wanted to serve up a special favorite of this crew of Roediger House regulars: New Year's Day meatballs, company mashed potatoes, and seasoned green beans. We did ourselves proud.

"New Year's Day Meatballs," from Carol Fultz and shared with me by my sister Allison Jones Holden of Rossville, IN (2001).

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Meal No. 1687: Standing Rib Roast

Perhaps it was a bit early to be getting into the mode of holiday cooking, but I found a small standing rib roast irresistible when I was doing my weekend grocery shopping and ended up putting it into rotation for a regular ol' Monday night meal. Neighbors Deborah and Alaina were here for the evening, so it was close to the perfect size for us.

Stuffed twice-baked potatoes and buttered early peas rounded out the plate, and the ladies brought some terrific pumpkin roll cake from Dewey's Bakery for dessert. We had a delightful evening.

"Standing Rib Roast," in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 235.

"Stuffed Potatoes: Good/Better/Best," in Cuisine at Home,  December 2006, p. 23-24. [Recipe Clipping]

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Meal No. 1686: Skillet Calzone

The Sunday evening meal at the Roediger House was an unusual experiment for me, but boy-howdy was it delicious.

Say hello to a sausage and pepperoni skillet calzone. For the four of us around the table, it proved to be quite a hit, methinks.

"Cast-Iron Skillet Calzone," by Russell Selander. In Cook's Country, December/January 2017, p. 12.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Meal No. 1685: Fusili Carbonara

The plan last Saturday night was originally for braised chicken thighs over Brussels sprouts, but when I pulled the chicken out of the fridge, it was frozen! So I decided to improvise and come up with a different meal for the four of us that evening, and I quickly settled on pasta carbonara. No one seemed to be unreasonably frustrated by the substitution.

"Pasta Carbonara," a recipe shared by Monie Lawrence of Raleigh, NC.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Meal No. 1684: Chicken Quesadillas on a Friday Night

With a good week of work under my belt, I arrived at Friday night hankering for the simplicity of fajita-spiced chicken quesadillas, and they did not disappoint. Combined with quite a few rounds of pool, it proved to be a relaxing start to a Roediger House weekend.

Preparation and cooking based on "Quesadillas for a Crowd," by Morgan Bolling. In Cook's Country, August/September 2015, p. 18.

"Fajita Seasoning Mix," from Adapted from "Fajita Seasoning Mix Recipe" on

Monday, November 21, 2016

Meal No. 1683: Ribeyes and French Fries

On the menu last Thursday night at the Roediger House: ribeyes and french fries.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Meal No. 1682: Pipetizer Casserole

When Tuesday evening's meal turned into a gathering of five, and since I had worked later in the day in McLeansville, I had to go with stuff I had on hand. Fortunately, Pipetizer Casserole was the perfect go-to, and we were all relatively pleased by its potent goopiness.

"Pipetizer Casserole" is an adaptation of "Tailgate Casserole," from The Big Book of Casseroles, by Maryana Vollstedt. San Francisco: Chronicle Books (2000), p. 120.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Meal No. 1681: Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary

It's not that often that I serve up a pork loin, although I do like them. I nice center cut pork loin, already trussed and tied, was calling my name in the meat department at Harris Teeter when I did my weekend shopping, and having three at the table last Monday night was a good excuse to try a new recipe for it.

What was served: roasted center cut pork loin with garlic and rosemary, with baked sweet potatoes and seasoned green beans. We had our fill.

"Roast Pork Loin with Garlic and Rosemary," from Bon Appétit, June 1999.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Meal No. 1680: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Back on Sunday night, when Winston-Salem had its first overnight frost of fall, my thoughts understandably turned to soup. Since it was yet another day of many house chores plus more work out in the yard, the recipe that made sense was cream of tomato with grilled cheese sandwiches. If it's going to turn cold, I might as well enjoy the meals that the weather inspires.

I'll also mention that, before I went out to work in the yard that afternoon, I fortified myself with a hearty three-egg breakfast:

"Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup," from Cook's Illustrated, November 1999. Recipe can also be found online at

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Meal No. 1679: Frisco Patty Melts on Sourdough

Saturday was another good day for working in the yard, and that impacted what I was willing to do regarding supper. It was time for another reasonably easy meal, one that I hadn't made since the very beginning of the year: Frisco patty melts with caramelized onion on buttered toasted sourdough bread. It was too much: I couldn't finish all of mine.

Classic Burger Sauce
from Cook's Illustrated, July-August 2008, p. 11.
4 T mayonnaise
2 T ketchup
1 tsp sweet pickle relish
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
Whisk all ingredients together in a small bowl.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Meal No. 1678: Bourbon Chicken

At the end of the day last Friday, with my body aching from two full days in the yard, I once again went a more simple route for the three of us at the dinner table. Named not because bourbon is an ingredient, but supposedly because it was developed and perfected by a Chinese cook on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, the dish I piloted that night is called Bourbon Chicken.

We decided it was pretty darned good. And Gern also kindly brought an Atlantic Beach pie he'd made, and it was better than the ones I've made.

"Bourbon Chicken," by LinMarie. From

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

New Trees for the Roediger House

Fall in Full Swing:
South Property Line Maples

When I had an unexpected day off from work last Thursday, I used the time to drive up to King to Mitchell's Nursery and Greenhouse. What a great find! I might never buy plants or shrubs from Lowe's again (well, maybe). They had a great selection and the plants and flowers and trees all were in such good shape. And the staff who helped me out were just terrific.

I had gone up there on a mission. While the backyard is really just a 20-foot-wide strip of hard clay and trashy grasses, with a steep slope midway between the house and the rear property line (to get the kitchen addition to proper elevation grade and also provide for drainage), it still deserves some love and attention. It is the most neglected area from the past four years of dedicated landscaping efforts. What I found myself trying to picture there, among other things, was a couple of tall hearty trees (if I live long enough to see them become tall and hearty).

And I am trying to be proactive in the face of the likelihood that a sizable office or mixed-use building will be constructed 21 feet from the back of the house, and this weighs heavily on me. I don't know when that will occur or what it will look like or what I might one day have to look out my kitchen window and see...a sheer wall? a minimalist block of tinted office windows? a variety of apartment balconies? the faux-window openings of a ground-level parking garage? I figured I'd better get started with creating some kind of screen.

I came home from Mitchell's with two tall red maples, which should grow relatively quickly once they get themselves established. I had to work past dark that day, but I got them both planted in holes that I'd already initiated, but which required finishing. The red maples are now planted just in from the rear property line, and I hope I take the right care of them:

The northern tree hole was a bit of a bear: not only was the hard-packed clay a back-breaker, but I also found that I was digging into the remnants of a buried wall. I busted it up as well as I could and discovered quite a collection of buried oyster and clam shells.

I also apparently knocked into an underground storeroom (look above at the back of that hole) of sunflower seeds from my birdfeeders...likely created when I had the problem with backyard rats!

I am now completely out of my reserve of topsoil that I regularly have delivered:

In addition, I picked up a Cherokee Brave red dogwood and decided that I really liked the image of it one day anchoring the small planting area just outside the side door to the parking lot area. I've never been quite happy with how I've used that lush and sunny area thus far, so we'll see how this helps in getting the right look and feel:

Trees were not my only find at Mitchell's: I also got one more oakleaf hydrangea, for which I'd been saving a corner spot right outside the side kitchen door:

And I got four flats of pansies and have planted them in the open beds both at the front of the house and in the side yard near the new red dogwood:

All mulching is pretty much completed, and all this was finished just hours before the first frost of fall, which occurred in the wee waking hours of Sunday morning: