Saturday, December 31, 2016

Meal No. 1717: Pipetizer Casserole

After a reasonably decent dinner for the five-person crew on Wednesday night, and in anticipation of the huge holiday dinner planned for Friday night, I decided to keep it casserole-y simple for Thursday: the cheesy goopy goodness of Roediger House favorite Pipetizer Cassserole...named in honor of guest-at-its-inception Jon Piper. It is a craven mix of browned seasoned ground beef, a splash of red wine, diced red pepper, slivers of green onion, either mushrooms or dried mushroom powder, garlic, tomato sauce, sour cream, cream cheese, Mexican cheese, penne, and oregano...topped with shredded cheddar cheese. Whether that description turns you on or off, we are all pretty happy with it here. For our meal that night, there was also garlic bread and fresh-tossed Caesar salad.

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

Friday, December 30, 2016

Meal No. 1716: Bacon-Wrapped Pork Filet Mignons

If my quick review of the blog is correct, the Wednesday night meal of bacon-wrapped pork filet mignons has now made its third appearance at the Roediger House. For the five of us dining that night, it proved to be pretty good. Green bean casserole and another batch of the buttery creamy Pioneer Woman mashed potatoes rounded out the plate.

"Pork Filet Mignons with Savory Pan Sauce," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 109, February 2015, p. 56-57.

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

"Creamy Mashed Potatoes," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. Published online 03 November 2007.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Meal No. 1715: Indiana Chicken and Corn Chowder

With five at the table on Tuesday night and a dreary foggy start to that day, I was of a mind to serve up the always amazing Indiana chicken and corn chowder. Our full bowls led to full bellies and a small bit of desirable discomfort.

"Indiana Corn and Potato Chowder," by Brannon Soileau of Maize, An American Grill (formerly of Lafayette, IN). In Indiana Cooks!, by Christine Barbour and Scott Feickert with photographs by Tom Stio. Bloomington, IN: Quarry Books (2005), p. 64-65. Recipe originally shared with me by my sister Allison on December 31, 2006. You can find this, and quite a few other Indiana recipes, if you scroll to the bottom of this article: "Indiana Can Cook."

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Meal No. 1714: Peanut Butter Bacon Burgers

It's likely because I first made peanut butter bacon burgers over the 2010 Thanksgiving weekend that I feel drawn back to them about this time of the year. To the uninitiated, I'm sure they might strike you as an unfathomable concoction that only a wild imagination and unbalanced palate might dream up. But you just have to try them for yourselves to know if they're amazing or amoral. It is a much-loved treat among the heartiest RoHo regulars and I think any announcement of their return usually sets hearts understandably aflutter.

A review of key points about the Roediger House peanut butter bacon burgers, on the occasion of their 25th 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. 1639
  • 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].

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Meal No. 1713: Deep Dish Chicago-Style Pizza

For a change of pace on Christmas night, I thought I'd try making Chicago-style deep dish pizza, for just the second time. I ought to have gotten an earlier start on it, and I now better understand why the second rise of the dough ought to occur in the fridge. But for the three of us partaking that night, we certainly had our fill.

"Chicago-Style Deep-Dish Pizza," by Francisco J. Robert. In Cook's Illustrated, Number 102 (January & February, 2010), p. 14-15.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Meal No. 1712: Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Quiche

When the delightful Christmas Eve gathering of friends turned into a slumber party as well, I figured I'd better come up with some grub for us to start off our Christmas morning together. Because it had turned out so well a week ago when I tried it for the first time, I thought I'd give the bacon, caramelized onion, and Gruyère quiche another go...while doubling the recipe. We seemed to like it pretty well.

Recipe based on "Bacon and Caramelized Onion Quiche," from Mountain Mama Cooks.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas 2016!

It appears that I am capable of either decorating the house, or getting Christmas cards done...

...but not both. Merry Christmas to all!

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Meal No. 1711: Christmas Eve with Friends

Christmas Eve has arrived here in Winston-Salem, and it's a night of food and fellowship among dear friends here at the Roediger House. On the menu: New Year's Day meatballs, company mashed potatoes, Southern creamed corn, and homemade applesauce. We feasted well and had ourselves a fine evening together.

"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.

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

Guidance for Homemade Applesauce from:

Friday, December 23, 2016

Meal No. 1710: Bourbon Chicken

The Friday night meal at the Roediger House represented the second go at something called Bourbon Chicken, a stir-fry meal that supposedly traces its origins to Bourbon Street in New Orleans. Its simplicity fit the bill tonight because I've spent the last three days fully engaged in trying to restore the Van Gogh guest room to use. Since the fall of 2014, it's been an overwhelming storage mess thanks to having to move rooms around when the plaster repair, painting, and mantle and floor refinishing occurred. (On another day, I'll blog more about bringing that room back online.)

"Bourbon Chicken," by LinMarie. From

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Clues to a Dramatic Hawk Event

When you take a clue from a window like this:

...and combine it with evidence like this:

...I think it's safe to assume I missed a dramatic hawk attack at the back corner of the kitchen eating nook/bay back in early November.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Meal No. 1709: Grilled St. Louis Pork Ribs

Last night, in the wintry chill of December, grilling happened. For the four of us gathered at the Roediger House table, this meant St. Louis-style pork ribs with a sweet and smoky barbecue sauce. I also included a broccoli salad and roasted a small mess of rosemary baby gold potatoes. The overall meal didn't rise to the level I'd hoped, but I suppose we partook of it well enough.

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

"Broccoli Salad," by Carolyn Purpura Mackay. In Cook's Country, August/September 2012, p. 7.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Fall Carpentry Projects

With homeownership comes a never-ending task list, of course, and it's not surprising that living in a 111-year-old house creates even more needs to tackle. But in the last few weeks, three postponed items were finally checked off of the renovation and addition project (kitchen and bathrooms) that concluded in 2009.

In the "new" main bathroom on the second floor, often referred to as the landing bathroom (because its entrance is on the landing turn of the main staircase), there's a very narrow linen closet that was just a shell. Don't worry: I still managed to completely junk it up with all kinds of stuff. But it was in need of shelving, which Kenny Schrader took care of in mid-November.

Kenny also completed plywood flooring for the whole of the attic space over the kitchen, so I'm glad to have ample storage space up there now:

One other task he completed: the exterior ledge of the main rear window in the attic had largely rotted, which I think was allowing water to come in and pool on the ceiling drywall above the main landing bathroom sinks and counter. Kenny installed and caulked a new weatherproof stool on that window.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Meal No. 1708: Braised Beef Short Ribs

It was a special dinner for six tonight at the Roediger House, and the featured entree was braised beef short ribs in a flavorful cooking sauce. It was darned delicious, and the creamy mashed potatoes that made their first appearance here were out of this world. And what's not to like about the classic Campbell's green bean casserole?

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

"Campbell's Classic Green Bean Casserole," by Dorcas Reilly, Kitchen Manager at the Campbell Test Kitchen, 1955.

"Creamy Mashed Potatoes," from Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman. [Published 03 November 2007]

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Meal No. 1707: Baked Ziti

It is the Sunday before Christmas, and the weather pattern right now is classic December for North Carolina.  The screenshot of the forecast (above) captures what I mean. Look at those temp swings! Outside today, the winds were gusty but the sun was peeking through when I refilled bird feeders, and it was feeling almost balmy:

And did I take terrible and sadistic pleasure in noting the contrast in the weather my sister and her family are enduring in Rossville, Indiana? You betcha:

While the weather was in turmoil outside this morning, I repeatedly interrupted myself during my coffee time as I remembered various Christmas items and decorations that had been stored apart from the bulk of them, so that I could retrieve them and put them out. The last items to find their place were the stockings on mantle holder hooks that that same dear cold sister gave me:

Then, this evening at suppertime, the question for the table was: could the new saucy casserole I'd made compare to the rich cheesy goodness of the house special known as Pipetizer Casserole? The verdict for the crew was a most definite yes: baked ziti proved not only to be a fun new experiment for me, but also a winning menu item. It was really delicious.

"Baked Ziti with Italian Sausage," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 120 (November/December 2016), p. 28-29.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Meal No. 1706: Bacon, Caramelized Onion, and Gruyère Quiche

The annual Milner Christmas party was this evening, so I needed a decent dinner beforehand that wouldn't be too filling and wouldn't be too much work. I also needed to be able to make it with what I had on hand and it dawned on me that a quiche was sounding like a decent option. So I tried a new one, and it was actually pretty amazing. The Saturday night quiche at the Roediger House was bacon, caramelized onion, and Gruyère cheese, with a fluffy and flavorful eggy filling and a nice combination of other ingredients. I tinkered a bit with the original recipe and it came out great. When I got home, I also managed to finish all the Christmas decorating, and things are looking splendidly seasonal!

Recipe based on "Bacon and Caramelized Onion Quiche," from Mountain Mama Cooks.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Meal No. 1705: Moroccan-Spiced Chicken Thighs

Thanks to guidance from friend and former 7th-grade student Brendan Shanley, I occasionally make a simmered-in-broth-and-spices chicken dish that is good over couscous or rice. For years now I've referred to it as Brendan's Moroccan Bistro Chicken, for lack of any other name, because I think he just sort of whipped it up. Anyhow: on this fine and quite chilly Friday night, it served as a decent one-bowl meal for the four of us.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

December's Super Moon

It was a full work week again, but this also included a two-day trip to Virginia Beach to work with the administrative teams of two different high schools there. When I was driving across the northern tier of North Carolina, it was still afternoon. But once I crossed over into Virginia and was cruising along US 58, dusk was starting to come on and the just-shy-of-full moon rose gorgeously ahead of me for a good part of the drive.

I considered that a great omen, because the moon would be officially full on Tuesday evening and I was excited to see it rise up over the Atlantic Ocean, from the lofty perch of my 8th floor oceanfront hotel.

Alas: it was cloudy and rainy and no moon could be seen. Google Sky was kind enough to rub it in my face that the moon was straight out in front of me in all its glory, but I wasn't going to be allowed to see it.

Man-o-man, though, it was still gorgeous the next night as it rose over the Winston-Salem skyline. This photo does not do it justice but maybe you get the idea...

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Caramel Popcorn Cap'n Crunch Cookies

An email with a very direct, very explicit command to "bring cookies" arrived from a member of the leadership team at Vandalia Elementary School, where I spent the day on Monday. I obliged, with a plate of Caramel Popcorn Crunch cookies, based on the recipe I use for Cap'n Crunch cookies. They're generally delicious, folks. I know because I had to sample them hot out of the oven the night before, of course.

"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.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Sweet Treats of Thanksgiving Week

The primary kitchen focus during Thanksgiving week was creating as much good food for as many meals as possible. It's not unusual for there also to be quite a few desserts and treats, since it's a vacation break and I generally have more time. But this year, I only had desserts for two different meals:

Lemon Chess Pie

Chocolate Eclair Cake

"Lemon Chess Pie," originally thought to be President Clinton's favorite version, but apparently it's not quite the same.

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

Monday, December 12, 2016

Meal No. 1704: Vierling Saloon Cream of Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

Making only its second appearance here during all of 2016, the Sunday night dinner was the cold-weather classic of creamy chicken and wild rice soup, as popularized by the Vierling Saloon in Marquette, Michigan. It quickly became a Jones family favorite once it was introduced to us by my sister and her Indiana-bred husband.

"Vierling Saloon Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup," formerly offered at the Vierling Saloon in Marquette, Michigan. This was first shared with me by my sister Allison Holden and her husband Tom, from Rossville, Indiana. Another online version of the recipe can be found at Miss Mary's Blog.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Meal No. 1703: Glorious Beef and Mushroom Stir-Fry

It's been about a year and three-quarters since I last made this tasty wok dish of beef filet, onions, and mushrooms. It was good to have Amy on hand to round out the table when I served this up last night.

"Glorious Beef with Mushrooms," in Wok Fast by Hugh Carpenter and Teri Sandison. Ten Speed Press, 2002, p. 87 (recipe) and p. 26-27 (marinade and sauce).

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Meal No. 1702: Moravian Chicken Pies

While I've battled this bad cold all week (which wasn't debilitating but I wasn't up to snuff, either!), I've taken myself off kitchen duty. One night I just ate oatmeal and toast; one night supper was taken down at the West End Cafe; one night I skipped altogether because I came home from an 11-hour day with as close to a migraine as I ever get...and went straight to bed.

So it was really kind of a treat last night to have six folks coming for dinner and to get back into the swing of things. Since it was briskly cold for early December, with high temps around 40, it seemed a good night to bring out a seasonally appropriate comfort meal: Moravian chicken pies (two of 'em!), sweet potato casserole with a pecan-brown sugar streussel, and seasoned green beans.

It was all warmly received before the crew retreated upstairs for some high-spirited rounds of Trivial Pursuit.

"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.

"Sweet Potato Casserole," based in part on Wanda Byerly's recipe, found in Cooking with Grace, by the Women's Fellowship of Grace Moravian Church, Mount Airy, NC (2001), p. 39.

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 that would make an old man feel better. At dinnertime, I still managed to bring 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.

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

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. 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 all 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