Friday, September 30, 2016

Meal No. 1642: Simple Beef Chili

On this fine Friday night, it was a gathering of the five core crew of the Roediger House family, and we honored the arrival of fall with bowls of steaming beef chili with delicious, sweet, tender cornbread. Then we all retired to the third floor entertainment wing and watched the original Star Trek movie from 1979.

"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

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Meal No. 1641: Skillet Beef Stroganoff

Drove in tonight from four full days of teaching in Frederick County, Virginia, and I needed supper to be simple. It's been quite a while since I used the Emeril Lagasse recipe for a skillet beef stroganoff, and it hit the spot tonight.

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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Under Counter Xenon Bulbs

When determining the electrical needs in the kitchen addition back in 2008-2009, I definitely wanted both over- and under-cabinet lighting. My electrician recommended wired units that used Xenon, rather than halogen, bulbs. He said I'd get better light and less heat. I've definitely liked them.

But some units do seem to suffer from more regular bulb burn-outs than others, so I think that will be something for my current electrician to look into. I do worry some about how warm the bottom shelves of the cabinets get, and it's led me to shift what kind of pantry items I store at that level.

January 2014 Bulb Blow-Out

And at least twice, I've had exploding bulbs, which just makes me nervous. The latest was at the end of August. I don't know if it was a power surge or what, but I was making dinner and POW!! A bulb in the wetbar area exploded with an incredibly loud pop, scattering glass fragments in a short radius. Here's the "after" shot of it:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Surveying the Damage of the Surveyors

The gravel lot that is immediately north of the back end of the house (foreground/lower left of photo above) is part of the parcel of land that will be developed in the next few years by the same folks who built 751 West Fourth, just across the street (as shown above). A while back, they had it surveyed and staked.

But for some odd reason, even though they were working in an undeveloped gravel lot, the surveyors thought it necessary to toss their dug-up clay and gravel over the retaining wall into my back and side yard:

So now, after a solid seven years of pretty good drainage from the backyard around to the drainpipes along the north side of the house, there is now a back-up and standing water whenever we get a good bit of rain:

Monday, September 26, 2016

Meal No. 1640: Multi-Mushroom Meat Loaf

This past Saturday night, the menu that seemed called for was lamb meat loaf with smashed sweet potatoes and buttered early peas. No need for dessert with a filling tasty meal like this!

"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.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Butter Toffee Cookies for the Road

Pretty regularly, when I report for work in Clarke County, Virginia, I am chastised for failing to bring any cookies with me. I've known the director of curriculum and instruction there for a very long time, and I distinctly remember with what incredulity she responded to my butter toffee cookies the first time I had them with me in her former district. Because of the travel involved, it's not always easy to arrive for duty in Clarke, bearing plates of cookies...but last week I was able to overcome the odds and supplement our work with a batch. They were pretty well received.

"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

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Best Vanilla Cake with Caramel Frosting

Last weekend, when the Saturday night meal featured peanut butter bacon burgers, there was also dessert: vanilla layer cake with caramel frosting. It was rich but good, but I'm not sure how we all managed to choke it down after those burgers!

"The Best Vanilla Cake," by Barry C. Parsons of Published 12 August 2010.

Frosting Based on "Easy Caramel Cake," by Cali Rich. In Cook's Country, December/January 2009, p. 26.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Meal No. 1639: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

Last Saturday night, it was time to make peanut butter bacon burgers return to the Roediger House dinner table. Just to make sure you understand why they are awesome: it's not just this remarkable combination of flavors. It's also the fact that the beef is home-ground; the peanut butter is homemade; the burger sauce is homemade; the bacon is braided so that it covers every millimeter; the buns are buttered and toasted.

A review of key points about the Roediger House peanut butter bacon burgers, on the occasion of their 24th 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. 1582
  • 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, September 22, 2016

Meal No. 1638: Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole

Last Friday night was another round of boys' night, with pool playing and tunes...and a hearty dinner. On the menu: poppy seed chicken casserole, along with corn and green beans.

"Poppy Seed Chicken Casserole," by Ashley Moore in Cook's Country, February/March 2015, p. 20.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Meal No. 1637: Fusili Carbonara

The simple made-from-staples meal this past Thursday night: fusili with carbonara sauce.

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

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Meal No. 1636: Braised Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

This past Wednesday, I spent my day with the admin team at an elementary school in High Point, which allowed me to get home reasonably early that day. After running errands, including a stop at Best Buy to pick up the 2016 edition of Microsoft Office and swinging by the Costco, I got to chill a bit to unwind before turning my attention to the evening meal prep.

When my friend and colleague Donna shared with me some recipe magazines a few years ago, she brought to my attention a dish that has become a requested house favorite: braised chicken thighs over Brussels sprouts and shallots. It's heartily good stuff and it was yet again a hit when dinnertime rolled around.

All in all, it was a great day for Ray!

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

Monday, September 19, 2016

Meal No. 1635: Porterhouse Steaks and French Fries

This was the meal last Monday night: grilled Porterhouse steaks with a mess of extra-crispy shoestring french fries.

I do love me some steak.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Lemon Meringue Pie

A week ago, after the sumptuous Sunday night dinner of cheddar-crust chicken pot pie, there was also a tasty dessert: the classic lemon meringue pie. It was a nice treat after that savory dinner.

I need to keep this one higher on the priority list: it's that good.

"Lemon Meringue Pie," based on a classic and common recipe.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Meal No. 1634: Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Crust

Sunday night called for a savory one-bowl meal, and for the three of us bellying up to the table, it was a second go at chicken potpie with a cheddar crust.

It's been very nearly five years, and 1300 meals ago, that I first made this super delicious dish.

"Chicken Potpie with Cheddar Crust," from Food Network Magazine, Vol. 4, No. 8 (October 2011), p. 132-133.

Friday, September 16, 2016

White Chocolate-Macadamia Nut Cookies

After Saturday night's supper, I thought a sweet finisher was called for, and I made quick work of putting together a batch of white chocolate-macadamia nut cookies. They are always so good coming out of the oven, with cold milk and a smile.

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

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Meal No. 1633: Poached Wild-Caught Atlantic Salmon

After the feast on Friday night, I figured I could tone it down just a bit for the Saturday night dinner. The wild-caught Atlantic salmon at the Harris Teeter was thick and luscious looking and I went with the poaching approach, in butter and wine and lemon juice with sliced scallions. A really nice chilled rosemary-dijon cream sauce was a great accompaniment, along with pearl couscous and roasted garlic whole green beans.

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

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Meal No. 1632: Holiday Pork Roast

This past Friday night was a feast at the Roediger House, with six of us having a fantastic time for the evening. Dinner seemed well-suited to the special crew on hand: holiday stuffed pork roast, Delmonico potatoes, and traditional green bean casserole. We lingered at the table after dinner and talked and laughed. It was a fitting end to a hard-working week.

Friday was also the day I picked up a new pair of glasses, too:

"Holiday Stuffed Pork Roast," by Meghan Erwin, in Cook's Country, December/January 2009, p. 18.

"Delmonico Potatoes," by Diane Unger, in Cook's Country, December/January 2009, p. 13.

"Campbell's Classic Green Bean Casserole," from Campbell's Kitchen. Recipe available online.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Butter Toffee Cookies

A request was made for a fresh batch of cookies to be made to follow dinner on Thursday night, and the meal prep played out in such a way that it was easy to do so. The result: butter toffee cookies, which I think are pretty spectacular even though over the years I've had to tinker with the butter and flour ratios to get them to not be so darned thick. These were more thin and spready than I'd like but man-o-man were they still ever so delicious.

"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

Monday, September 12, 2016

Meal No. 1631: Not So Cajun Chicken

Only about a month ago did I make the dish served up for three of us this past Thursday night, but it was specially requested, and for good reason: Not So Cajun Chicken...a one-bowl meal that was too much for all of us but we persevered through its goodness anyway.

"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.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Meal No. 1630: Easy Creamy Swiss Baked Chicken Breasts

On Wednesday night, I reached back into the archives for a recipe to use, a baked chicken breasts dish that was first made for me by long-time friend Cindy Coulson. Nostalgia compelled me to add the usual side of buttered corn. I do kind of wish I'd gotten around to making applesauce as well. I think this might be the best it's ever turned out...even though more stuffing would have made it all even better.

"Easy Creamy Swiss Baked Chicken Breasts," a recipe shared with me by Cindy Coulson in 1997. Versions of the recipe can be found here and here.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Atlantic Beach Pie

Following Tuesday night's hearty meal of BBQ chicken soup, I wanted to have a nice soothing and cooling dessert to finish us all off. It had been a while since I made Atlantic Beach Pie, and that's what I put together for us. I thought it was pretty much spot on.

"One Phenomenal Pie: Atlantic Beach Pie," from Chef Bill Smith. Published in Our State Magazine, May 2014. Also featured in "Found Recipes" on All Things Considered from National Public Radio, broadcast April 13, 2013.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Meal No. 1629: BBQ Chicken Soup

While it's true that I used the fine weather of Labor Day Monday (and the accompanying day off) to put a couple of beercan chickens on the kamado grill, the real plan was to use most of the meat in the amazing BBQ chicken soup that my sister Allison introduced me to. So while some of that chicken was part of Monday night's simple repast, the bulk of it showed up in steaming savory spicy bowls of goodness that pleased multiple bellies at the Roediger House dinner table on Tuesday.

Kamado Meal #34B

"Chicken on a Throne," from Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press (2003), p. 171-173.

"BBQ Chicken Soup," from the folks at the Big Green Egg website.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Doubletree Chocolate Chip Cookies

I recently was chided, or fussed at, or criticized, for not having made cookies lately for the regular crew of the Roediger House. It's true that I've made several batches this summer but have taken them to share with people I was working with. So Labor Day Monday not only involved kamado grilling of two beercan chickens, but I also whipped up a batch of Doubletree-style chocolate chip cookies. Oh, lordy: they are so very good fresh out of the oven, with cold Vitamin D milk in a tall glass to go with them.

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

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Meal No. 1628: Chicken on a Throne

I reckon Labor Day is supposed to finish closing the door on summertime, although school starting up takes the first angry whack at killing these beloved dog days. In Winston-Salem, Monday was a glorious day off with clear sunny skies and gentle breezes and just enough heat in the air to still feel like the lazy good times of the treasured estival season. I ain't scared of Fall just yet, but I surrender to the certainty of its impending arrival.

So how did I spend that day off? Firing up the kamado grill for the first time since January, and putting two chickens on thrones in there to smoke away the perfect holiday afternoon. In truth, I only wanted to harvest a small part of those chickens, enough to go along with the previous evening's leftover homemade potato salad, slaw, and honey barbecue sauce. The real motive was to employ most of this terrifically tasty chicken in a warm and hearty batch of BBQ chicken soup, when company was due to come on Tuesday night.

Kamado Meal #34A

"Chicken on a Throne," from Smoke & Spice by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press (2003), p. 171-173.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Meal No. 1627: Grilled Pork Ribs

Oh, Sunday night of Labor Day weekend, with amazingly perfect weather and a gorgeous evening for grilling: that made having a couple of friends over all the better, so that we could feast on all-new recipes for barbecued pork ribs, dry spice rub, honey barbecue sauce, dijon coleslaw, and potato salad. All the items on the menu were making their first appearance on the Roediger dinner table.

And it was all pretty darned good. I loved the way the ribs turned out: fall-off-the-bone tender, with great flavor. The honey barbecue sauce was spot-on, and I think we all liked that version of potato salad. The coleslaw was good but it was my least favorite part of the meal.

I do realize that this was two barbecued dinners in a row, and (as the blog will soon reveal) there's a fair chance the next one will be, too.

"Make Ahead Ribs," "Smokin' Summer Spice Dry Rub," and "Smoky Spice Honey Barbecue Sauce," from Barry C. Parsons of

"Dijon Coleslaw," from Barry C. Parsons of

"The Best Potato Salad," by Ben Rayl of

Monday, September 5, 2016

Meal No. 1626: Barbecue Chicken

The Saturday night meal over Labor Day weekend for three of us was the summer season's first run of grilled barbecued chicken, with macaroni and cheese casserole on the side. Oh my: it was pretty darned delicious. And it was a really perfect night to be out grilling, with light breezes and perfect temps. September is a pretty awesome month.

From Bon Appétit, July 2013:

"Memphis Rub," from ALIKAT695 on, with helpful modifications as suggested in the reviews from naples34102.

"Macaroni and Cheese Casserole," by Sarah Gabriel. In Cook's Country, June/July 2012, p. 17.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Meal No. 1625: One-Pan Pork Tenderloin with Green Beans & Potatoes

It was a crew of five awesome folks on hand for Friday night's week-ender meal, and I wanted to be able to get in a bit of pool playing while dinner cooked.

One-pan pork tenderloin with roasted vegetables was a great choice, I think. We cleaned our plates and still had room for just a bit of the remaining double chocolate espresso cheesecake.

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

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Meal No. 1624: Bistro Pizza with Cheddar-Stuffed Crust

My first attempt at a bistro-style pizza occurred this past Thursday night, with a crust stuffed with slices of sharp white cheddar cheese. One half was mozzarella, goat cheese, and bacon; the other half was blue cheese, Wisconsin sharp cheddar, and bacon. I'd say it was all pretty good.

Thoughts, Hints, and Ideas to Make the Bistro-Style Pizza Came From:

Friday, September 2, 2016

Double Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake

It was a special dinner this past Wednesday night, with fun neighbors Deborah and Alaina here. So why not try out another new recipe? For the occasion, it was the inaugural attempt at a double chocolate espresso cheesecake, which baked up tall and proud and was more than enough dessert after our big dinner of braised beef short ribs.

"Double Chocolate Espresso Cheesecake," by Cheryl Perry [Hertford, NC]. In Taste of Home Christmas Annual 2010, p. 171.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Meal No. 1623: Braised Beef Short Ribs

Last night's dinner for five was an excuse to return to the amazing braised beef short ribs that I tried for the first time back in July. And they were good again, with stuffed potatoes and green beans to complete the plate. It was another good occasion to enjoy the company of down-the-street neighbors Deborah and Alaina.

"Braised Short Ribs," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. Published 16 November 2009.

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