Thursday, March 31, 2016

Meal No. 1517: 2 x 2 Soup

A rain system moved through Winston-Salem this past Sunday, turning temps cooler and making the day just dreary. All that joyful feeling that I get from sunshine on a spring day was tamped down, and my thoughts turned to something comforting for the Sunday night dinner crew. So we sat down to bowls of steaming 2 x 2 soup, a concoction of browned ground beef, Rotel tomatoes and green chiles, dark red kidney beans, and minestrone soup, which is then given cheesy deliciousness from the addition of Velveeta cubes. There was very little left at meal's end.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Meal No. 1516: Beef Provençal

Movies used to be a big thing for me, and there was suspicion amongst my family members that too many trips to the theatre were directly responsible for the five years it took me to complete my PhD at Virginia. There might be a small bit of truth to that. At one gathering of a bunch of people, probably for Easter 2000, different movie titles were brought up and somehow I could report I'd seen just about all of them.

It seems I don't get to the cineplex like I once did, so this past Saturday was kind of special: a major film release, the Saturday afternoon after it came out, and five of us in a merry band of moviegoers (with Mookie's parents Rita and Jim along as well!). The critics' harsh reviews notwithstanding, I think we all gave Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice a more decent rating. It was better than I was expecting.

I'd promised to serve up dinner once we all got back to the house, so I had broken out the crockpots:

In one, Beef Provençal, and scalloped potatoes in the other.

I also made a completely awesome batch of applesauce that might even have made dear sweet Evie Coulson proud of me.

Dinner turned out pretty well, overall, and then there were some fierce games of pool with Jimmy coming out on top all around.

"Beef Provençal," from the Food Network Kitchens.

"Slow-Cooker Scalloped Potatoes," by Kelly Price. In Cook's Country, January 2011, p. 6.

Guidance for Homemade Applesauce from:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Meal No. 1515: Grilled Ribeyes and French Fries

The all-too-short visit from my sister ended at mid-day on Good Friday, but we managed to get in a late breakfast of cinnamon toast and cheese grits as a send-off.

The send-off included two cases of Cheerwine, which Eli seems to really love. I'd already stocked another case of it in the attic cooler, prior to their arrival Wednesday night:

The earlier emptying of the household gave me time for clean-up in the kitchen, a bit more weeding in the yard, a grocery run, and then a 2.5-hour nap. The small chance for scattered showers never materialized, even though the skies would darken and look daunting. In the early evening, I snapped a couple more spring pictures before being panhandled at the front wall.

The evening was picture-perfect, though, and it begged for grilling steaks and frying fries. That made for a nice night at the RoHo, followed by a quick stroll up to West End Coffeehouse for some tasty gelato.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Meal No. 1514: Moravian Chicken Pie

On a gorgeous Thursday afternoon, while my sister and nephew from Indiana popped in for a couple of days at the end of their spring break, the suggestion was made that we get out for a stroll. This lead us to the City of Winston-Salem's Salem Lake Park, where it turns out that the Salem Lake trail is actually SEVEN MILES AROUND.

But we did it and were not too much worse for the wear. It was lovely out there, with the redbuds bursting with the clarion call of spring's arrival, and a few dogwoods shyly blossoming. We caught sight of tons of turtles, delightful ducks, grousing geese, cautious cardinals, and a regal blue heron whose escape from us seemed always to put him in the direction in which we walked, so we encountered him repeatedly. Lots of bikers of all stripes, several runners and joggers, and a few other strollers such as ourselves (as well as one poor guy whose Subaru key had jostled out of his shorts while he jogged...we helped him look a bit and then a mother pushing a baby in a stroller walked up with the found key).

We weren't too beat to sit down for a satisfying supper later that evening. On Mother's china I served slices of Moravian chicken pie with a bit of gravy on top, and some seasoned green beans. Eli and I retreated after supper up to the attic and knocked out quite a few more games of pool before neither of us could stand to stand up any longer.

"Moravian Chicken Pie," adapted from a recipe by Mimi Patterson and published in Cooking with Grace: A Collection of Favorite Recipes from Our Congregation to Your Home by the Women's Fellowship of Grace Moravian Church in Mount Airy, NC (2001), p. 47.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Meal No. 1513: Grilled Creole-Seasoned Pork Chops

On the absolutely beautiful Wednesday evening that just passed, I turned to the grill and ended up with delicious Creole-seasoned pork chops, along with a huge baked potato and some steamed baby Brussels sprouts. It turned out to be a lot of food, but my efforts were valiant.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Meal No. 1512: Biscuits-N-Gravy

On my first day off for an extended Spring Break on Wednesday, I got in the kitchen and made lunch: biscuits and sausage gravy. Once again, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I had my fill before I'd emptied this delicious bowl.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Meal No. 1511: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

This past Tuesday marked the end of the work calendar for the first half of the spring, and I get to embark on a nice long spring break. The evening festivities included another boys' night (although we missed Amy!), including a late afternoon viewing of the 1975 summer blockbuster, Jaws.

When I stopped off at the Kernersville Harris Teeter on my way home from working in Greensboro, the boneless beef short ribs and top sirloin filets looked fantastic, and that could only mean one thing: it was time for another round of peanut butter bacon burgers. [I recently, and finally, replaced my busted Ninja food chopper and I was ready to try making homemade peanut butter again.]

It's safe to say we feasted. The burgers were downed in about eight minutes or less, and we topped it all off with a some Atlantic Beach Pie with a tough crust.

A review of key points about the Roediger House peanut butter bacon burgers, on the occasion of their 22nd appearance on the dinner table:
  • Inspired by Yo Mama's in the French Quarter of New Orleans
  • First Made: Meal No. 180
  • Last Made: Meal No. 1479
  • 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.

Original bacon braid guidance from "Bacon Sheets," from

See also: "How to Make a Bacon Weave for the World's Best BLT," a nice video demonstration, from Justin Chapple's Mad Genius Tips on the Food & Wine website [published 02 March 2015].

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mulch A-Moon about Nothing

Wednesday: Day One of a nice break from the work and travels of spring. My first order of business was receiving this year's load of finely-shredded hardwood mulch from Pope Sand & Gravel:

I was ready to tackle this pile, with the sun shining so brightly and the breezes coming from the west with a bit of gusto behind them...

After supper, when I rolled the trashcan out to the curb for Thursday morning's trash collection, I looked up to see a most glorious moon, which I am wholly incapable of property photographing:

But it was striking and quite a sight to behold:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Meal No. 1510: Breakfast for Dinner

This past Monday night it was a delicious breakfast feast for dinner.

But in the pre-dawn hours of this early spring Wednesday morning (when I'm posting this blog entry), the setting full moon put on quite a show behind the house, in the western night sky:

"Creamy Grits," from Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Homemade Version of Doubletree Hotels Cookies

When the occasion presents itself for me to stay in a Doubletree Hotel, I'm glad for it because I really do love the sweet treat of the cookies they give you at check-in. For years, I've been making a monster chip cookie that is, at least, in the same direction as those goodies.

But this past Sunday night, for dessert, I went with a version of the Doubletree Cookies recipe that I dug up on the internet, and I'm calling this the closest take yet. We were all really happy with how they turned out.

It makes a big difference to eat them hot and fresh from the oven, of course, but they were still most appealing the next day, when I took some with me to an elementary school in Guilford County.

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

Monday, March 21, 2016

Meal No. 1509: Potato and Cheese Soup

The first day of Spring Sunday was dreary, and it was cold. Not at all springlike, and the evening's weather begged for soup. High on my list of meal choices was the potato and cheese soup recipe that my sister passed on to me, and it was an excellent choice for the end of the weekend, while soft cold rain fell outside.

"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.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The First Day of Spring

Since the weather on this first day of spring is ridiculously chilly (mid-40s, gray, a bit rainy), I'm going to mark the occasion by showing pictures I snapped in the beautiful 72°F sunshine at the end of this past week...a couple of days before spring legally arrived.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Meal No. 1508: Root Beer and Molasses-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Saturday night at the Roediger House involved the wonderful surprise visit of a much-missed dear friend, Robin Fail, who probably hasn't been here in about three years. That means she rewarded me with the appropriate gasps and exclamations of one who had not seen all the plaster repair, painting, and floor refinishing...nor the renovation that turned the attic into a great entertainment space.

A plate was added for her to sample a bit of the delicious dinner: root beer and molasses-braised beef short ribs, along with mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli. We were disappointed to find that West End Coffee House was strangely closed after dinner, denying us their delicious gelato, so I made instant vanilla pudding and we were all almost as happy.

"Root Beer and Molasses-Braised Beef Short Ribs," by Elisabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. In Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing (2014), p. 150-151.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Meal No. 1507: Monie's Carbonara over Fusili

With four days in Virginia this week, and Friday spent here in Winston-Salem wrapping up another great Project CRISS training with teacher leaders, followed by a late afternoon meeting, it just didn't leave much time to plan or shop for dinner. To the rescue comes my long-time friend Monie Lawrence, thanks to her recipe for carbonara that always seems to please...and that can be made from items that I reliably have on hand.

It's a good thing it was a one-bowl meal, because the small crew headed upstairs with our plates and ate while finally getting around to watching X-Men: Days of Future Past.

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

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Chocolate Éclair Birthday Cake for Amy

When we all gathered around the table last Saturday to celebrate Amy's birthday, I served up after dinner her specially requested dessert: chocolate éclair cake.

Man-o-man, we always love this and eat it up. It's darned simple but darned delicious.

"Chocolate Éclair Cake," a common and popular recipe.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Meal No. 1506: Pipetizer Casserole for Amy's Birthday Dinner

The core group of regular regulars does the Roediger House a great favor by offering the pleasure of their company and their presence. I love that many evenings each week there will be extra places filled at the dinner table.

For all that time these good folks spend bringing life and laughter to the house, I offer in return the chance to have a birthday meal with the option to specify the menu, and I try to make it happen.

This past Saturday night, it was time to celebrate the amazing Amy Williamson, but her dinner request was almost too easy to create and I feared it wouldn't be as special as she deserved. She asked for something cheesy and goopy, and that is a demand best filled by baking up the RoHo specialty of Pipetizer Casserole.

Then again, perhaps the dessert that evening made up for the plainness of the well-received casserole. (More about that in tomorrow's blog post.) Below, though, feast your eyes on the cheesy goopy goodness that marked the birthday occasion:

[Feel free to check out the blog post of the first night I made it and the story behind its odd name.]

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

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Meal No. 1505: Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce

Last Saturday, after rising early and taking the unusual step of stepping out to Starbucks for the morning coffee, I decided to try something new for a late breakfast. The latest issue of Cook's Country had an interesting idea for me, and I gave it a go.

I'd never made proper eggs benedict before so it was fun to make the attempt. It was good but not great, and I attribute that less to the recipe itself and more to some elements of technique that I need to work on.

"Eggs Benedict with Foolproof Hollandaise," by Christie Morrison. In Cook's Country, April/May 2016, p. 24-25.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Meal No. 1504: Korean Beef Bulgogi

After a full good week of working, I was "feeling the weekend" and wanted a nice evening to unwind and enjoy a couple of days off. Late afternoon pool, a couple of great beers, a little time outside in this wonderfully spring-like weather...and a quick, simple dinner of Korean beef bulgogi over rice with a fried egg on top. A short walk over to West End Coffee House for gelato eased the spice that remained on my tongue. It was a fine Friday night in March.

"Basic Bulgogi," by Chris Morocco. In Bon Appétit, November 2015, p. 44.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Meal No. 1503: Shrimp Bisque

The quantity of Madeira vegetables that I made last Sunday night gave me plenty extra to utilize with other dishes this past week, including Monday night's lamb meat loaf. On Thursday night, I put the last of them to work in a batch of shrimp bisque, which proved to be a reasonably elegant weeknight meal that hit the spot.

"Shrimp Bisque," in Bon Appétit, June 2011, p. 114.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Meal No. 1502: Blackened Grilled Tuna Steaks

Spring feels dangerously near, my friends, as this week the temps are dancing in the upper 70s. I'm heavily scheduled with work all week but that didn't keep me from sneaking in just a bit more time in the yard on a couple of late afternoons. On Tuesday, I even kicked back in a yard chair with a late afternoon Bell's Best Brown Ale and watched the very busy birds hungrily attacking the just-refilled feeders in the grove.

After a great Wednesday with instructional leaders at Bessemer Elementary, along with the curriculum facilitator from Vandalia, and a late afternoon meeting, I took the summery path with dinner and grilled some tuna steaks with blackening spice. There was still a healthy dose of smashed sweet potatoes from the Monday night meal on hand and I steamed some baby Brussels sprouts to go with it all. I grabbed some of Sunday night's leftover Bernaise sauce to top off the tuna. I'll confess that the bit of remaining New Orleans pecan pie bread pudding with whiskey sauce was too much of a temptation to resist for dessert.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Meal No. 1501: Lamb Meat Loaf

On Monday night, with a package of ground lamb in the fridge that needed to be used, I turned again to my faithful Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook and whipped out one of the favorites: lamb meat loaf. The recipe as written calls for a variety of mushrooms, diced and sautéed with onion, to be added with seasonings and crushed crackers to the lamb. I almost always just use shiitake mushrooms and we're generally pleased with the results here.

After making that huge batch of madeira vegetables for last Sunday's beef tenderloin and mashed potatoes, it occurred to me that those might be an interesting substitute for the mushrooms. And they were: the four of us at dinner have had this entree many times since my sister first gave me that THC cookbook. We agreed that it was particularly splendid on that night, as were the smashed sweet potatoes. It was just another really tasty meal for a fantastic company of friends.

"Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf" (p. 150) 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, March 10, 2016

New Orleans Bread Pudding

Last Sunday night, on the occasion of the 1,500th meal in the "new" kitchen of the Roediger House, even though we'd all probably eaten more than enough, we still had to have dessert. One of my favorites (and I have a lot of them) got top billing: New Orleans Pecan Pie Bread Pudding with whiskey sauce.

Yum, and yum again.

"New Orleans Pecan Pie Bread Pudding," from King Arthur Flour online.

"Whiskey Sauce," based on a recipe from Mimi's Cafe (found online).

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Meal No. 1500: Beef Tenderloin with Bernaise & Madeira Sauces and Madeira Vegetable & Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes

Since the completion of the major addition and renovation project back in 2009, there have now been 1,500 meals made in the Roediger House kitchen. Yes: that's the numbering system for all the blog posts that speak to what I made for dinner (or lunch or breakfast). It's a function of my OCD, I guess, but once I said "Here's the first meal" back in May 2009, and then "Here's the second meal," well, it just hasn't stopped.

Anyway: one thousand five hundred meals in just under seven years, and it seemed worth celebrating. So I reached back into the archives to a meal I've only made once, and it was quite a production (and occurred 250 meals ago!). It comes to us from the second Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook that my sister Allison gave me, and it features a pan-seared, oven-finished cut of beef tenderloin nestled on a pile of madeira vegetable and goat cheese mashed potatoes, topped with crispy vidalia fried onions and bernaise and madeira sauces.

What did you have that night? It may have been good, whatever it was, but it wasn't this. It wasn't this at all.

"Beef Tenderloin with Bernaise & Madeira Sauces and Madeira Vegetable & Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes," by Elisabeth Sims with Chef Brian Sonoskus. In Tupelo Honey Cafe: New Southern Flavors from the Blue Ridge Mountains. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing (2014), p. 156-158.