Sunday, September 27, 2020

Meal No. 2677: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

Exactly a week ago, I found myself drawn back to the remarkable culinary monstrosity that is a repeat favorite and absolutely a classic of the Roediger House dinner table: peanut butter bacon burgers. Perhaps the poisonous combination of the essential cuts of beef I need being on sale, and a passing reference to them when Kristen and Mookie visited last weekend, is to be blamed for this indulgence that was denied to those who love them so...

I do like to offer a review of some key points about the Roediger House peanut butter bacon burgers, which this time comes on the occasion of their 31st appearance:

  • Inspired by Yo Mama's in the French Quarter of New Orleans
  • First Made: Meal No. 180
  • Last Made: Meal No. 2414
  • Fresh Home-Ground Beef, typically from boneless beef short ribs and top sirloin
  • Homemade Peanut Butter
  • Homemade Classic Burger Sauce (recipe below)
  • Labeled Sample "Final Product" Burger: Guide to Meal No. 234

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.

Guidance on grinding, shaping, and cooking burgers from "Best Old-Fashioned Burgers," by J. Kenji Alt, in Cook's Illustrated, No. 93 (July/August 2008), p. 10-11.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Lemon Sugar Cookies

When I made a small batch of soft and chewy sugar cookies a week ago Friday, they were so good and so gone. I guess I needed more of the same, sort of, and used the mid-afternoon visit last Saturday by Kristen and Mookie to lead me into the kitchen so there'd be a sweet sampling to offer to them. A quick recipe that yields rather a remarkable cookie comes from Melissa Stadler of lemon sugar cookies. Oh my gosh...what a fantastic result! I can't believe I'd only made these once before. They are easy and pleasing and worth repeated attempts when I'm craving a cookie of promising possibility.

"Lemon Sugar Cookies," from Melissa Stadler of [Published 21 March 2016]

Friday, September 25, 2020

Meal No. 2676: Mexican Chicken and Rice


It turned cool and windy and very much like an autumn day last Saturday, and I was content to limit my outside time, mostly, except for a very pleasant driveway visit with Roediger House pre-pandemic regulars Kristen and Mookie. There's always enough to do inside that it's not like I'm idling very much. At dinnertime, I sorted through the accumulated proteins in the meat drawer of the fridge and settled on an always loved but seldom seen dish with a crossed-border flair: Mexican chicken and rice, also known as arroz con pollo. With a boosted spice level to give it some sexy heat, and terrifically-seasoned strips of chicken thighs cooked up to tender perfection, it was a bowl full of mmmms and aaaahs till I could eat no more!

"Mexican Chicken & Rice," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 115 (January/February 2016), p. 10-11.

"The Best Mexican White Cheese Dip," from

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Meal No. 2675: Roasted Salmon over Caesar-Topped Greens

Last Friday night followed an unexpectedly lovely afternoon, when the promised rains of the rest of the Sally system failed to materialize over Winston-Salem. That meant some great outside time, which was especially delightful for the house pooch Sumner. At dinnertime, I didn't want to go overboard, so it was nice to get jiggy with another round of roasted salmon on Caesar-dressed power greens. It was salad, it was scrumptious, and it was also a bit much by the time I'd just about licked that bowl clean. 

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Chewy Sugar Cookies

The rain kept coming and coming, all drizzle all day long, as the huge moisture mass associated with the former Hurricane Sally slow-walked itself over Winston-Salem last Thursday. There'd been a ridiculously early dinner and I was restless as evening came on, after things had been washed and put away. So I made chewy sugar cookies. Yum.

"Chewy Sugar Cookies," by Katie Leaird. In Cook's Country, December/January 2018, p. 24-25.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Meal No. 2674: Sous Vide "Smoked" Beef Brisket

This past Thursday was a full-on day of drear and wet, as the remnants of Tropical Storm Sally moved slowly over the northwest Piedmont of North Carolina. I had awakened before 4 am and toiled through the morning on work stuff and house-related tasks until it felt like a mid-day nap was needed...but which was derailed by the repeated ringing of the phone as recorded telemarketers worked their evil ways. So I got up and got busy with the big meal of the day, served at the old man's hour of 3 pm. On the menu: beef brisket that I'd cooked sous vide a few days before, but finished that afternoon in a low-temperature oven followed by a suitable rest on the counter. I made a hearty and savory gravy sauce from the drippings, also incorporating some bone broth, red wine, Madeira, and a roasted veal demi-glace. All of that meant there was only one starch choice: creamy homemade mashed potatoes. Hoisin-roasted whole green beans brought it all together and it was a fair feast while the rains kept coming.

"Sous Vide Smoked Brisket," from J. Kenji López-Alt, Chief Culinary Consultant of [Published 01 August 2016 / Updated 21 May 2020]

Monday, September 21, 2020

Meal No. 2673: Southwestern Caesar Salads with Grilled Fingers of Filet

After a good afternoon of virtual teaching from the North Parlour last Wednesday, it was nice to step away from my laptop and those professional duties and walk a few steps back into the kitchen I love in this old house that I love. I decided on a quick grocery run so that the evening meal could be moderate rather than heavy, somewhat healthy, and absolutely delicious: southwestern Caesar salads topped with the previous evening's leftover grilled teriyaki steak skewers. Quick prep and no fuss, since all ingredients and components were essentially ready for assembly. 

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Meal No. 2672: Teriyaki Steak Fingers

From the trimmings of my on-sale whole beef tenderloin purchase this past week I had saved some odd-shaped cuts that did not need to go to waste. Initially, I was considering either beef tips or a stir-fry, but I was fresh out of mushrooms, which seemed indispensable to either of those possibilities. Thank goodness I remembered the great little recipe for grilled teriyaki steak fingers that my sister and her husband gave me years ago: they were even better made with these tender morsels of beef on skewers and went nicely with a fresh batch of quinoa and the rest of the previous evening's wilted spinach.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Meal No. 2671: Grilled Filet Mignon

Last Monday night was perfect for grilling out, and I'd just trimmed and carved a beef tenderloin to vacuum-seal and freeze a number of portions for future use. I held out a couple of steaks for that evening's meal, and I added roasted garlic asparagus and garlic-and-shallot wilted spinach. I can't believe I have such a hard time getting spinach right but the asparagus and steaks were unquestionably on the money.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Blue Moon Ice Cream

Thanks to a recent plunge into the archive of recipes in the ice cream category on, I have bulked up my collection of these frozen dairy confections to sample and pilot. Just because it seemed summer-y and interesting, I'd elevated Blue Moon ice cream to the top of the pile but had to track down a key ingredient first, which finally came last week. So Thursday I prepped the base and Friday morning I churned it and put it away in the freezer to set up. Then it was ready and suitable for dessert last Sunday night as part of a bit of small birthday celebration. Strongest on the lemony side but counterbalanced with light touches of raspberry and vanilla, this is a tongue-soothing concoction with a lingering sweet aftertaste, all in a shade of a lovely Carolina blue.

"Blue Moon Ice Cream," by Alexandra Penfold of [Published 13 July 2012; Updated 15 April 2020]

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Meal No. 2670: Juicy Burgers on the Grill

It seems I've pretty much let the whole summer pass by without resorting regularly to grilling burgers. The blog tells me that the last go at this was the very beginning of June. So when the weather righted itself again after several rainy and gray days back on Sunday September 13th, and I was able to put in a few hours in the yard, I just liked the thought of burgers fresh from the grill for the evening meal. They were super good, too. 

"Grilled Juicy Burgers," from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks recipe magazine.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Meal No. 2669: Southwestern Caesar-Topped Power Greens

Rainy, dreary, overcast, gray, and rather blah: that's the story of this past Saturday. The only task of the day that I completed with any sense of satisfaction was to clear out old items from the freezer and to vacuum-seal quite a few of the pandemic-related hoarding items that I'd tossed in there. Dinner didn't need to be much, so I whipped up another batch of my southwestern Caesar dressing to go atop power greens, and finished it off with corn and black beans. 

Southwestern Caesar Dressing was my creation but was based on:

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Meal No. 2668: Oven-Roasted Baby Back Pork Ribs

Last Friday night felt fine for a fabulous feast, featuring oven-roasted baby back pork ribs that were just about as perfect as I've ever made them. Tender, juicy, incredibly flavorful, each bite was a mandibular marvel. A reasonable reserve of amazing mashed potatoes from the previous evening had been put away as leftovers, and they were good all over again. I was so focused on those aspects of the meal that I ended up shortcutting the third item, defaulting to a can of cut green beans for the green vegetable. All-in-all, this dinner was a testament to the realized joys of simple kitchen endeavors.

"How to Make Great Ribs in the Oven," by Emma Christensen. From The Kitchn. [Published 01 July 2017]

Monday, September 14, 2020

Meal No. 2667: Lamb and Mushroom Meat Loaf

Thursday was a take-it-easy kind of day, after the long weekend of yard work and then a couple of days focused on work tasks and an afternoon virtual teaching session on Wednesday. I kept the laundry going all day and caught up on some kitchen stuff. Hunger hit early, and so the full meal of the day was had around 2 pm...and it was very much deep in the heart of awesome: lamb and mushroom meat loaf, homemade creamy mashed potatoes, and delicious roasted hoisin-glazed whole green beans. I took the extra step of having some brown gravy as well. Lordy, this was a fantastic feast in all regards and respects.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150), in Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen, by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC, 2011.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Meal No. 2666: Sweet Pork Sheet Pan Nachos

When I find Boston butt pork shoulders on sale at Harris Teeter, I'll imagine clever or saucy ways I might put them to use, such as in a fancy international braise or in a hearty beef-style stew with vegetables. Then comes the time when I need to cook it or toss it, and I'll have left myself only enough time for a familiar old standby. That's the story of this past Tuesday, when it worked best to have let the slow cooker work overnight so that I could create the easy enchilada sauce mid-afternoon, shred the cooked pork, and leave it to simmer a while longer. 

I also put together a batch of pico de gallo, which is not my usual approach, and added black beans and corn to it all as toppings for a big ol' spread of nachos on a sheet pan. The full belly that remained at bedtime was a reminder of how tasty it all was that evening.

The week started off with the understandable come-down that might follow a pretty glorious weekend, when I had reveled in having tons of outside time. But then the realities of Tuesday following a holiday settled on me, and I found myself with a pretty good to-do list and errands to run and shopping to accomplish. Having an easy go-to for supper served me well that day.

Shredded Pork based on "Cafe Rio Sweet Pork," from Holly of Life in the Lofthouse. [Published 30 October 2014] See also "Sweet Pork Nachos," from Holly as well. [Published 01 August 2017]

"Pico de Gallo," from Kathryne Taylor of Cookie + Kate.

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Meal No. 2665: Breakfast for Dinner

The perfect Labor Day weekend weather managed to go three-for-three, and I was able to use last Monday to fully complete the project of rebuilding the lawn of the back yard: hauling in and raking smooth the topsoil covering and fill, spreading grass seed, and then setting up and fine-tuning all the sprinklers (four automatic heads on the new irrigation system, plus two hose-connected sprinklers that I attached to the recent system extension I put in). I was exhausted, frankly, but was also pretty pleased to finish. As it got late in the afternoon, and I turned my thoughts to dinner prep, I realized I'd best put my block of Neese's sausage to work and settled on a platter of breakfast for supper. The pork patty goodness was well partnered with creamy southern grits and a couple of fried sunnyside-up eggs. Breakfast for dinner, always a winner.

Guidance for making the creamy grits: Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Friday, September 11, 2020

Meal No. 2664: Chicken Salad via Sous Vide Split Breasts

The very best Labor Day Weekend weather that I can remember continued through Sunday, and it was awesome for more labors in the yard. I put in some good efforts, particularly with bringing in a ton more top soil as I continue building up the back yard and prepping it for restoration of the lawn there. Dinner was a lot easier since I turned to my Joule sous vide immersion circulator, so it could work its magic on vacuum-sealed bags of split chicken breasts, seasoned and joined in their cooking quest by lemon and sliced shallots. The resulting chicken salad I made was pretty scrumptious on brioche buns, proving to be lighter but still suitable fare to finish off a very good day.

Adapted from "The Best Classic Chicken Salad Recipe," from J. Kenji López-Alt, Chief Culinary Consultant of [Published 03 June 2015 / Updated 17 April 2020]

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Meal No. 2663: Roasted Salmon and Broccoli

If you were hoping for picture-perfect weather for the entire Labor Day weekend, it's the one favor we might credit 2020 with performing: glorious sunshine, wonderful breezes, temps that hovered around 80°F, and low humidity. I found myself inspired and active in the yard, planting the rest of the tray of mums I'd gotten for a dollar each, but also digging a new trench to extend one of my back yard irrigation zones. The previous days had dealt me the blow of unhappy morning weigh-ins and I wanted to get right with myself again, so salmon and roasted broccoli were the winning combination on Saturday night.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Meal No. 2662: Chili's Copycat Southwestern Egg Rolls

The first day of September brought with it cooler temps and gray rainy skies, making it feel much closer to the coming season of autumn than I can ever be especially comfortable with. I just love summer and the warm weather and all the time I get to spend outside, so this is going to depress me if it seems it is coming to an end. Since it wasn't a day for yard work, I persuaded myself to tackle a fun dinner idea that gets just a bit involved: southwestern egg rolls, in the style of those that I have enjoyed at Chili's in the past.

To up the flavor profile, I decided I'd give pounded chicken breasts a spice rub and grill them:

When it came time to put these all together, I went ahead and made a vegetarian filling too, and a second pan with four additional vegetarian-friendly egg rolls, without the chicken, so that I could pass them on to dear neighbors down the street. But I held onto the primary pan of egg rolls because they had this delicious chicken (diced up!) in 'em:

I'd made these one other time, in early 2018, as part of an appetizer sampler platter for supper. On that previous occasion, I went so far as to fry the rolls, but that was also back before I'd worked so hard to get my weight down. The more recent version was tossed into the oven to bake, although overall it's still not the healthiest dish! The avocado ranch dipping sauce was definitely on point, I might much so that it was perfect for dressing mixed green salad together with the unused grilled chicken breast portions, providing me with delicious suppers for the following two nights:

Similar to "Chili's Southwest Egg Rolls," submitted by Janet K. Lewis on [Updated 23 September 2015]

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Meal No. 2661: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

On the final day of August, a rainy and dreary day mostly, I got to enjoy a porch visit with education colleague Robb Warfield for a couple of hours. He's now superintendent of Dakar Academy in Senegal, and one of these days, when we are free of the coronavirus pandemic, I expect he's going to fly me over there to do some work at his schools. We had a great talk with lots of fantastic ideas batted about regarding teaching and learning and instructional leadership. But it was late in the day when I found my way back to my kitchen, so I fell back on a simple supper recipe that has gotten a lot of play here this summer: Emeril's skillet beef stroganoff. But it is always so good, so I don't mind it showing up frequently.

Based on "Beef Stroganoff Hamburger Dinner in a Skillet," by Emeril Lagasse. Found online at The Food Network and also on

Monday, September 7, 2020

Lemon Velvet Cake

The hankering for more cake-making hit me on the final Saturday of August, and I reached into the archives to bring back a delicious layer cake that I hadn't made since 2017: lemon velvet cake. It's got moist, tender, and tall layers and a softly lemon subtlety...and a ton of icing, for sure! I divvied up quite a few pieces and delivered them to the neighbors but still had plenty to tempt me that night after a simple salad supper.

"Lemon Velvet Cake," from Barry C. Parsons of

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Meal No. 2660: Garlic and Sage Pan-Seared Pork Chops

While less strenuous, it was still a full afternoon in the yard Friday a week ago, so I was happy that the dinner that night was filling and good: garlic and sage pan-seared pork chops, with seasoned green beans and roasted potato wedges. Everything was just on target.

And for a little sweet something-something afterwards, I made a batch of sweetened whipped cream to go atop some fresh sliced strawberries.

Although I now go by memory and feel, the basics of the pork chop recipe are found here: "Your New Favorite Pork Chops," by Alison Roman, in Bon Appétit, March 2015, p. 35.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Meal No. 2659: One-Pan Pork Tenderloin

Thursday a week ago, the temps were back up in that 90°F territory, and it was a bit of a blistering day for me to resume a full day of yard work. But I did: mowing down the bad grass in the backyard that I'm trying to rehabilitate (pictured above), mowing the neighbor's grass, planting a new cypress tree...

...setting up more irrigation drip lines:

...and the big project of the day: spreading topsoil and seeding the southwest corner at the back of the parking lot, where my discard pile was for so many years.

I finished out that long day by getting sprinklers set and adjusted and connected to my zoned yard hydrant on that side of the property, so that an automatic cycle of watering could commence. I was beat by the end of that day, and dinner needed to be relatively quick and painless. So hoisin-glazed pork tenderloin cooked on a bed of whole green beans, and then finished with a chive-garlic-butter topping, proved an excellent choice for the night's menu.

By the way, as of yesterday morning, the back corner I'd planted was looking pretty green and glorious:

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

Friday, September 4, 2020

Meal No. 2658: Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken with Savory Pan Gravy

It was lovely but got a bit hot again back on August 26th, and my ambitious outside agenda was not realized to any measurable extent. But I went ahead and made a feast of a dinner anyway, featuring an herb-roasted whole chicken and a savory pan gravy, along with smashed sweet potatoes and roasted broccoli florets. You know what made the dinner extra special? Getting to share it as a driveway picnic (social distancing is still in full force here!) with Roediger House regulars Mookie and Kristen.

"Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken with Savory Pan Gravy" (p. 136-137) and "Smashed Sweet Potatoes" (p. 128),  in Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes from Asheville's New South Kitchen, by Elizabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, LLC (2011).

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Meal No. 2657: Roasted Salmon on Caesar-Topped Greens

When I finished up my second full day of online professional development for a team of teacher leaders at a high school in Virginia on Tuesday a week ago, I was both glad it had gone pretty well but also a bit antsy because it involved sitting and talking to my laptop for seven hours. I sure didn't want a heavy meal that night, which made roasting salmon fillets and mixing up a fresh batch of extra-garlicky Caesar dressing an easy call. It definitely filled me up, but not so much that there wasn't room to scrape the remnants of buttermilk ice cream out of the bottom of the freezer container I'd stored it in.

Based on "Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Meal No. 2656: Pad Thai with Chicken

The shifted realities that have settled on us in the time of coronavirus brought on a new experience for me back on Monday, August 24th: I did a full day of virtual professional development for teachers who are joining the staff of a high school I've been working with in Virginia. While I went into it with some trepidation and uncertainty, overall it proved to be an excellent day. The group was terrific, although I miss having the more personal and direct interactions that I've enjoyed over the years in similar live sessions. Even though I was sitting down pretty much the whole day, I guess there's still a toll to be extracted from talking to the green camera light on my laptop for seven hours. I was glad to go fo an easier supper that was still just remarkably good: pad thai with chicken, pulling from two different recipes. Somehow, even without the bowl seeming particularly full, I still managed to overdo it.

Recipe Based on:

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Meal No. 2655: Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta

On Sunday a week ago, I was ready to put to use a package of Italian sausage...but I was also ready for something new and different to make with it. The interwebs delivered unto me just such a candidate for trial: creamy Italian sausage pasta, which was just silky smooth and deliciously satisfying.

"Creamy Italian Sausage Pasta," from Nichole of [Published 17 August 2018]

Monday, August 31, 2020

Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake and Buttermilk Ice Cream

Back on August 21st, after a huge supper, I still found the gumption (once the dinner dishes were washed and put away) to make the base for a batch of buttermilk ice cream, and then the next day I was able to churn it and put it away in the freezer to set up. That Saturday night it was a perfect companion to a big ol' slice of blue ribbon carrot cake, which I made earlier that day.

"Blue Ribbon Carrot Cake (1981)," also known as "Best Carrot Cake (October, 1997)," from Southern Living. Compiled in the Southern Living 1981 Annual Recipes, Birmingham: Oxmoor Press. Also found online. The recipe I follow was recommended and shared with me by John & Ebbie Linaburg of Woodstock, Virginia.

"Buttermilk Ice Cream," from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012), p. 37.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Meal No. 2654: Chicken Francese

As best I can tell from the blog, when I made chicken francese back on Saturday, August 22nd, it was the fourth time...and it was the fourth different recipe I've attempted. But the fourth time may have been the charm, because it really was quite good, with terrific bright flavors, crispy and juicy chicken, wonderful sherry mushrooms, and enticing angel hair pasta underneath it all.

As I noted the last time I made chicken francese, back in 2016, I think of this dish fondly because of how many times I've enjoyed it at Sal's Italian Bistro in Edinburg, Virginia, when I've been working up in that area. It makes me sad that the current way of the world is depriving me of those much-loved visits with dear friends and educational colleagues Donna and Ebbie!

"Creamy Chicken Francese," from Karina of Cafe Delites.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Meal No. 2653: Baked Chicken Breasts Supreme

Friday night a week ago, I was ready to have another round of baked chicken breasts supreme. I'd prepped them in the marinade the night before and their longer cook time allowed me to pull together creamy mashed potatoes and a big pot of lima beans. It was an abundance of food that almost bested me, but I prevailed.

"Baked Chicken Breasts Supreme," from Jane Hobart via Cindy Coulson [recipe received 19 October 2006]. has a pretty close version, with the addition of minced garlic: "Baked Chicken Breasts Supreme." Another somewhat less similar version can be found at "Baked Chicken Breasts Supreme," by Marjorie Scott from