Sunday, February 16, 2020

Salted Caramel Skillet Brownies

If these February 1st salted caramel skillet brownies were any indication, the year's shortest month began with great promise of sweet days ahead. Hot, a hint of gooeyness, and deep penetrating chocolate flavor, the chewy crusting around the edges thanks to the cast-iron skillet: these are pretty remarkable for just being a heaping helping of brownies.

"Salted Caramel Skillet Brownies," from Maria Lichty of the Two Peas and Their Pod blog. [Published 29 April 2013]

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Meal No. 2529: Bacon Cheeseburger Soup

February started up on a somewhat sunny Saturday, without it quite feeling anywhere close to springtime. Still, I somehow managed to work up a fierce appetite and needed to make mealtime according to the stereotypical senior citizen's schedule. In our bowls by about 3:30 pm were piping hot servings of bacon cheeseburger soup, and it was especially outstanding on that afternoon. There were ample leftovers to reach for over the ensuing days, which is just an added bonus. (Aren't bonuses, by definition, "added"?)

"Bacon Cheeseburger Soup," from Catalina Castravet and Holly Nilsson of [Published 01 March 2018]

Friday, February 14, 2020

Homemade Klondike Bars

Last April I got a wild hair to try a somewhat-intimidating dessert treat: homemade Klondike bars. When they turned out so terrific, I knew I'd have to give 'em another go. When I found myself with unused egg whites from making the awesome fudge ripple ice cream recently, I had the right impetus to go to action. So, back on January 30th, when the evening was winding down, I could produce from the freezer these magical little creations, to the delight and bemusement of the entire household.

While I've tagged this blog post as "ice cream," it really isn't. Part of the neat trick of these is they're made with a combination of Swiss meringue and whipped cream, giving you that fluffier and lighter filling for the thin crackle-shelled chocolate coating. Oh my: these are pretty wonderful!

"Homemade Klondike Bars," by Stella Parks of

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Mid-Winter Sampling of Cookies

In the last couple of days of January, I put my mind to baking up cookies, as though I needed any more sweets to be smitten by. On that final Thursday, I made a batch of white chocolate and milk chocolate toffee cookies, adapted from my frequently-used white chocolate macadamia nut cookie recipe. They were perfectly decent, if not run-of-the-mill, but hot out of the oven they were still mighty tempting.

Then, on Friday January 31st, I had a bit of time mid-day to whip up another new recipe for cookies: lemon sugar cookies. Well, I didn't coat 'em with sugar so maybe they're technically just lemon cookies. But they were lemony great and ought to be put into the regular baking rotation.

Then came my first batch of cookies in February, made back on that first Wednesday of the month. I pretty regularly feel good about my cookies. I don't make grand claims about being a creator of them; I just follow the recipes and use experience to make minor adjustments here and there. As it happens, I tried out a new recipe for Bailey's Irish Cream chocolate chip cookies that just proved a bit frustrating. I mean, the cookies themselves were good but boy were they flat, greasy, fragile, and almost unpleasantly chewy. The recipe author did me right previously, with browned butter white chocolate chip toffee cookies, that I made a couple of times in quick succession. But I'm going to have to really rework this recipe if they're to turn out presentable enough to share.

White Chocolate and Milk Chocolate Toffee Cookies, based on "Premier White Chocolate and Macadamia Pieces Cookies," from Hershey's Mauna Loa. Found online at

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

"Bailey's Irish Cream Chocolate Chip Cookies," by Ashley Manila of [Published 07 December 2019]

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Meal No. 2528: Sheet Pan Fajitas

On the final Thursday afternoon of January, I tried out a new recipe in the latest issue of AllRecipes magazine: sheet pan chicken fajitas. I'd say it was fair to middling, although I dressed it up with a quick cheese sauce and that helped it become more palatable. I doubt I'll reach for this one again all that soon, though.

"Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas," by THEMOODYFOODIE, in AllRecipes Magazine, February/March 2020, p. 62.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Meal No. 2527: Roasted Salmon on Caesar Greens

I'm not letting the winter doldrums crash on me too very hard. With a nicely roasted spiced slab of salmon atop Caesar-adorned greens, you can see that I was keeping my spirits plenty high (all the way back on January 29th, that is!).

(I'm still about two weeks behind with blog posts, so all I've been offering lately seems to be old news.)

Monday, February 10, 2020

Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls / Party Ham Biscuits

I'm glad my sister in Indiana drew my attention to a recipe for pimento cheese sausage balls, because they are a decent step up from the Bisquik-box version that the Jones family has made for decades. For a late morning snack on the final Tuesday of January, I mixed up a batch and enjoyed them fresh and hot out of the oven...and tucked the rest of them away in the freezer so they can be brought out at a moment's notice for overnight guests or to quiet a rumbling belly.

A few days later, I reached for the Costco-sized two-pack of Hawaiian party rolls in order to make a new batch of party ham biscuits, a sweet and savory treat that's perfect for a quick meal-on-the-go or a day-starting snack...and I'm glad I had enough on hand to last several days as well as a pan-full that I could take down the street to share with the neighbors.

"Pimento Cheese Sausage Balls," by Kate Robertson of A Thought and a Half blog. [Published 20 March 2019]

"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.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Meal No. 2526: Emeril's Skillet Beef Stroganoff

My day's work back on January 27th took place fairly close to the house, when I spent the day with another subcohort from the High Point University Leadership Academy, this time at Calvin Wiley Middle School here in Winston-Salem. When the hunger for a meal struck late afternoon once I was back home again, I was able to offer up the delicious and simple skillet beef stroganoff from Emeril Lagasse.

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

Saturday, February 8, 2020

The Good, the Blooming, and the Ugly

The yard is confused. It was colder than normal for much of October and November, and then we've had two rather nice warm spells: around Christmas, and for a good bit of the last several days. One of my daffodils was an early starter all the way back on January 15th and it looked like it was going to have company in its confusion:

I was really shocked yesterday, though, to notice small blossoms on the Bradford pear tree, which normally does not bloom until late February:

The crocus have pushed up early as well, and there's at least one blossom bud waiting to spring forth...but I doubt it enjoyed last night's dip into the 20s.

By the time spring rolls around, I'm wondering if the only bit of snow we'll have seen will be the dusting (pictured above) from January 31st.

Winston-Salem got doused on Thursday with over four inches of rain, along with some serious winds that persisted into yesterday as the temps dropped from the 60s down into the low 40s. That left me with a lot of small limbs to pick up and I had to tie down the waste carts to keep them from blowing all over the driveway. I was not surprised that the south end of the cellar had a fair amount of standing water.

Speaking of the driveway, I simply do not understand why I get talked to like I'm an asshole when I tell people they can't park in my driveway just because it looks like it wouldn't be an issue. It wasn't exactly a nasty run-in that I had with trespassers yesterday but it still left me frustrated and angry by the time it was all said and done. I just don't think I'll ever understand folks who simultaneously believe that they can make decisions for me about ways they can use my property and then also dictate to me how I'm allowed to feel about it.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Meal No. 2525: Chicken "Carne" Adovada

Back on Sunday evening a week ago, with four of us getting started on the third season of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, I served up one-bowl meals of chicken adovada, with its signature brick-red New Mexico chiles sauce. It was nowhere near as good as the pork version of carne adovada that I've made a handful of times, but I wanted a take on it that could be made with the chicken thighs I already had on hand.

But dessert that night helped make up for the mediocrity of the meal! Earlier in the weekend, I made a fresh batch of fudge ripple vanilla ice cream so that it would be set and ready after dinner that Sunday night. I also got the batter assembled for making DoubleTree-style chocolate chip cookies fresh and hot out of the oven to go with that ice cream. That's what finished us off after dinner. It was sort of amazing.

"Chicken 'Carne' Adovada," by Cheryl and Bill Jamison on Originally published in EatingWell Magazine, September/October 2010.

"Vanilla Ice Cream" (p. 35-36) and "Fudge Ripple" (p. 122), from Bi-Rite Creamery's Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones, by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2012).

"DoubleTree Hotel's Chocolate Chip Cookies," by Ayşegül Sanford and her blog, Foolproof Living. Published December 29, 2013.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Meal No. 2524: Brunswick Stew

I am not a fan of winter. So the cold all-day rains and the contant temps in the 40s on Saturday a week ago managed to keep me chilled through and through. What better antidote than a huge pot of Brunswick stew? Finely dicing the remaining baby back pork ribs meat, adding in a fresh rotisserie chicken from Costco, and heaping in a delectable collection of canned vegetables and assorted sauces and seasonings all brought to fruition a hearty and pleasing stew.

Brunswick Stew derived some inspiration from the following:

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

The Unwelcomed Late-Night Bell-Ringers

I have no idea who the gentleman is pictured above, and he has no idea who I am, nor was it clear to either of us why he came ringing the doorbell as it approached 10 pm one Saturday night back in December. It took me nearly 10 minutes to get him off the front porch, although most of what he had to say while stymying my efforts to dismiss him never quite became cogent. I did try to find out for whom he thought he was looking when he came a-calling, but that didn't get me anywhere.

The next unwelcome caller rang the doorbell after midnight in the earliest minutes of January 24th. By the time I got out of bed and got some clothes on, I spotted him hobbling down the sidewalk past the driveway. He was looking from house to house confusedly and he seemed to have trouble walking. I caught up with him in hopes I could help him find the house he was looking for without rousing any other neighbors who were not his intended destination.

It turns out that he had found his way back downtown after being discharged from Baptist Hospital, and he was looking for a homeless assistance center, reportedly in the vicinity of Fourth and Spring Streets. So I walked with him to the only two places I knew of nearby that regularly offered services to the needy, but of course neither was open nor offering shelter services. We finally had to reach out to the Winston-Salem Police Department and, about 1:15 am, an officer found us where we were waiting in the chill night air. I headed back home after the policeman said he'd take the gentleman to one of the shelters located up around Tenth or Eleventh Street.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Butter Toffee Cookies / Cap'n Crunch Cookies

Before heading over to Guilford County two weeks ago to conduct a session focused on Instructional Design with a group of middle school teachers, I wanted to make sure I had some fresh cookies to take to the instructional leadership team there. So after cleaning up from the baby back pork ribs dinner that Monday night, that's what I turned my attention to, and I ended up with a delicious batch of butter toffee cookies, with espresso-flavored semisweet chocolate morsels, walnuts, and milk chocolate toffee. I ate two out of the oven so that I'd be in a position to pronounce them edible and shareable.

Then, near the end of that same week, after coming in from a quick work trip up to Chesterfield County, Virginia, I used a window of time that Thursday to make a batch of Cap'n Crunch cookies, another terrific cookie concoction that gets pretty good reviews as well.

"Butter Toffee Cookies," originally from King Arthur Flour. The catalog that comes periodically from KAF has recipes in it, which is where I originally got this. But, as sometimes happens, it is not available on their website. I'm glad someone posted it to

"Cap'n Crunch Cookies," found online at The Capitol Baker, with credit going to The Sugar Plum Blog for inspiration and the source of the adapted recipe.

Monday, February 3, 2020

Meal No. 2523: Oven-Roasted Baby Back Ribs

As much as I shop at the Cloverdale Harris Teeter, I guess it's not surprising that I look for bargains, which in turn dictates quite a few of my meal choices. A good special on baby back pork ribs is a case in point, from exactly two weeks ago. On that chilly Monday night, the ribs were huge and they were delicious, and the homemade mashed potatoes were particularly outstanding that night. Even though the roasted broccoli was also perfectly good, it just paled in comparison to how the rest of the meal turned out.

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

Sunday, February 2, 2020

"Wonderful" Yogurt Cake

Two weeks ago, I carved out a bit of Sunday afternoon time to try out another new recipe. This time it was for a different version of yogurt cake, pulling from some randomly discovered recipe that came up on idle web searches. I wasn't expecting much but, once I'd added a sweet vanilla glaze to it and cut a slice or two, I discovered that it has a fun springy texture and a rich poundcake-like flavor without being so very dense and heavy. It was actually pretty good!

"Wonderful Yogurt Cake," from DAPDUB on

"Buttery Vanilla Glaze," from Karlynn Johnson of [Updated 25 September 2019]

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Meal No. 2522: Ultimate Beef Stew

Another decent special on chuck roasts at my local Harris Teeter, and a bitter wave of cold, were all the incentive I required to choose beef stew for the Saturday night dinner a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't as good as I remembered it being, however, even though the beef chunks themselves were pretty tasty. Overall it was sort of ho-hum and I might just need to go back into the archives to dig out some of my other beef stew possibilities, the next time this particular mood strikes.

"The Ultimate Beef Stew," from Tyler Florence of The

Friday, January 31, 2020

Meal No. 2521: Carrot Cake Oatmeal

After trying out my new recipe for carrot cake oatmeal a few days before, and finding it to be quite good, I figured a bigger pot of it was called for on the Saturday morning of the recent visit to the Roediger House by my friends the Huneycutts. With those warm spices and a nice mix of textures, with just enough sweetness, it was all too easy to operate with a heavy hand when spooning up the bowls of hearty goodness that morning.

"Carrot Cake Oatmeal," from Molly Watson of [Updated 02 July 2019]

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Meal No. 2520: Ultimate Cream of Tomato Soup

The weekend before last, dear friends Barbara and Jim Huneycutt drove down from Crozet, VA, for an overnight getaway. The sting of winter had returned to Winston-Salem by this point and I wanted to be prepared to offer up late-evening grub in case they arrived with I made an extra big pot of cream of tomato soup. They weren't offered the grilled cheese sandwiches that were part of the regular dinner time but it made them all the more deserving of their second helpings of soup.

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

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Meal No. 2519: Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken with Savory Pan Gravy

As the weather turned here in Winston-Salem back on Thursday, January 16th, from our wonderful warm spell into cold winds bringing a spate of below-normal temps, I found myself deep in dinner prep for a welcoming feast for two: herb-roasted whole chicken, with the savory pan gravy that is perfect both for the chicken and the homemade mashed potatoes I made with it. And with all that, so what if the plate was rounded out by canned peas? I like 'em too.

"Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken with Savory Pan Gravy," 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), p. 136-137.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Meal No. 2518: Carrot Cake Oatmeal

My regular six-month check-up with my doctor occurred Thursday a week ago, and all my bloodwork came back pretty great. Since I was "fasting" going in, so that the lab could take blood for the lipid and metabolic panels, I returned home fairly hungry. I guess that's why I dove head-first into a sexy sweet recipe for Carrot Cake Oatmeal, which turned out quite fantastic. I limited myself to a pretty small portion, though, which filled me with enduring morning regret.

"Carrot Cake Oatmeal," from Molly Watson of [Updated 02 July 2019]

Monday, January 27, 2020

Meal No. 2517: Roasted Salmon on Caesar-Dressed Greens

Wednesday a week ago was a nice opportunity to return to salmon Caesar salad, with yet another perfectly-roasted filet on power greens dressed with my homemade Caesar dressing. It proved to be a delicious supper of ideal proportions.

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

Sunday, January 26, 2020

White Chocolate Toffee Browned Butter Cookies

The week before last, I was due to report for duty with the High Point University Leadership Academy, as part of our clinical instructional rounds for some of the aspiring principals in the current cohort. Our destination was North Forsyth High School, and I knew better than to show up without cookies in hand. It was a good excuse to give a quick second go at a recent recipe discovery: white chocolate toffee cookies made with browned butter. They went over well with the folks I shared them with!

"White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies," by Ashley Manila of [Published 07 May 2014]

Saturday, January 25, 2020

A Spot of Warmth and Sunshine

My neighbor Rick across the street has given me some helpful advice regarding winter yard tasks, with top of that list being to cut back all of my monkey grass and liriope right around the start of the new year. Given that this is North Carolina, I can usually count on there being some random sunny somewhat warm day either before or after January 1st, although sometimes that day will inconveniently coincide with work or travel.

Such was not the case on January 12th, when it was sunny and an absolutely glorious 71°F, with just the lightest of breezes. We have had so doggone much rain and wet weather this fall and winter that it was pretty awesome for the sunshine and the warm temps to coalesce around a Sunday afternoon when I was free to hit the landscaping task list. Not only did all the monkey grass get trimmed down but I also was able to gather up all the sticks and branches from the previous evening's storms, as well as cut back a lot of last summer's growth from shrubs like the mallow hibiscus bushes and such. The yard cart was full as dusk came on...and just as it began sprinkling again!

Friday, January 24, 2020

Chocolate Mousse in Deep-Dark Fudge Brownie Bowls

Although I felt mostly responsible and restrained over the Christmas holidays, I was not completely devoid of some impulse shopping. I got intrigued by the idea of brownie bowls for serving mousse, pudding, or ice cream, and I snagged a special pan from Amazon accordingly. Timing is everything, of course, so it was fortuitous that the latest issue of Cook's Country had a dark chocolate mousse that was ripe for trial. Put it all together and you'll see that dessert back on January 11th was a somewhat remarkable display of kitchen chicanery: dark chocolate mousse served in fudgy brownie bowls with a homemade whipped topping. None of us could eat it all. All of us tried. No one expressed regrets.

"No-Fail Dark Chocolate Mousse," from Cook's Country, February/March 2020, p. 16.

"Deep-Dark Fudgy Brownies," from King Arthur Flour.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Meal No. 2516: Pork Medallions with Ginger-Soy-Shiitake Cream Sauce

A Sunday evening gathering for four the week before last allowed me to bring back one of the Roediger House special specialties: pan-seared pork medallions with a ginger-shiitake-soy cream sauce. This incredibly flavorful and savory dish pairs well with the homemade mashed potatoes and especially with Brussels sprouts gratin. We might all have overdone it but that didn't prevent us from journeying back for seconds.

Cream Sauce based on "Pan-Seared Tuna with Ginger-Shiitake Cream Sauce," from The Bon Appétit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild, 2006, p. 398-399.

"Brussels Sprouts Gratin," by Alison Roman. From Cooking on

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Meal No. 2515: Chicken with Coronation Sauce

A long-time favorite one-dish meal in the Roediger House has been chicken with coronation sauce, but it hasn't made an appearance here since May 2018. But I brought it back out for a simple meal that could be taken up to the 3rd floor back on January 9th, after my first day of work following the holidays.

"Coronation Sauce for Chicken," from 400 Sauces, by Catherine Atkinson, Christine France, and Maggie Mayhew. Hermes House (2006, 2008), p. 155.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

The Famous Buies Creek White Wine Coffee Cake

I reckon it's okay if sentiment and nostalgia worm their way into the Christmas holidays. It brings back good memories whenever I turn my kitchen attentions to making my hometown version of white wine coffee cake, a recipe that my mother got from Lib Tripp and Barbara Taylor all those years ago in the quiet hamlet of Buies Creek. It causes a recurring chuckle in me when I think back to those ladies not liking having to go buy wine but loving the cake that they could make with it. I also love the cake that we're talking about, even though I seem to make it rarely. It was quite a delicious treat after supper back on January 7th...and for a smattering of mornings thereafter!

Monday, January 20, 2020

Meal No. 2514: Roasted Salmon and Broccoli

Salmon is a real favorite here at the Roediger House and I've certainly depended on it while I've leaned into making healthier choices for meals. After a holiday of so many heavy and goopy meals and a wide smattering of various sweets and confections, it was a welcome change back on January 7th to have perfectly-roasted salmon and an accompanying heap of roasted broccoli for dinner, jazzed up ever so slightly with a puddle of chilled rosemary-dijon cream sauce so that it wasn't completely ordinary.

Chilled Rosemary Dijon Cream Sauce, from "Poached Salmon," in The Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook, compiled and edited by Julie Fisher Gunter. Birmingham, AL: Oxmoor House (1999), p. 216.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

Meal No. 2513: Well-Dressed Chicken Salad

When you've got some leftover rotisserie-style chicken from a previous evening's meal, seems like a good excuse to make a batch of homemade chicken salad for a simple Monday evening supper snack. Fresh-snipped chives that are still prospering outside the back door, plus dill and tarragon, and a bit too much Duke's mayo, but it served me well on the first Monday of January when the rest of the household made do with the other abundant leftovers options.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

White Chocolate Toffee Browned Butter Cookies

My spring work schedule commenced back on January 7th, with a day long visit to a middle school just up the street from the house, with a particular focus on some math instruction issues. The instructional coaches I was spending my day with are fans of my cookies so I used a little time on my last day of Christmas vacation to make a new recipe: white chocolate toffee browned butter cookies. And my gracious -- they were wonderfully delicious. This'll be a keeper and a repeater.

"White Chocolate Toffee Brown Butter Cookies," by Ashley Manila of [Published 07 May 2014]