Monday, December 31, 2018

Meal No. 2269: Grilled Chicken Breasts over Caesar Salad

It wasn't exactly warm on Christmas Day but at least it wasn't breezy or windy, and that made it still feel nice even in the dark of early evening when I employed the grill to prepare supper. Because I'd put together a somewhat fancy feast, in a manner of speaking, for the Christmas Eve meal, I backed off that next night and simply grilled chicken breasts to go atop hearts of Romaine with homemade Caesar dressing.

Above is a shot from late morning on Christmas Day, when it felt decent outside. But even if it wasn't bitterly cold, it still met the threshold for me to light a morning fire and keep it going all the day long:

Fire No. 59

The day was not without its hitches, as I struggled to get everything to fit in the fridge, I managed to let my homemade creamer take a nasty tumble from the front shelf. No use crying over it!

Helpful guidance for grilling chicken breasts came from: "How to Grill the Juiciest Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts," by Joshua Bousel of

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Chewy Sugar Cookies

After a good stretch of guests and visitors over the last week or 10 days, the quiet that settled on the Roediger House a couple of days before Christmas finally gave me time to make a batch of chewy sugar cookies. This recipe really does seem to be pretty spot on, because they are the best soft and sweet sugar cookies. I indulged by eating half of one!

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

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Meal No. 2268: Grilled Filet Mignon over Caramelized Onion & Blue Cheese Sauce

On Christmas Eve, when it was a quiet house and just the two of us at dinner, I thought it might be a fine occasion for a touch of fine dining. It started with a salad of chopped hearts of Romaine dressed with homemade creamy Caesar. Then, the main feature was a grilled filet mignon on a bed of caramelized onion and blue cheese sauce that was topped with sautéed Madeira mushrooms.

All that, with Fire No. 58 crackling on the kitchen hearth:

Based on "Grilled Ribeye Steak with Onion Blue Cheese Sauce," by Ree Drummond of

"Easy Lemon Caesar Salad Dressing," by Kim of

Friday, December 28, 2018

Meal No. 2267: Roasted Salmon & Broccoli

Sunday morning's weigh-in had me a bit frustrated so I committed to a healthy dinner for Sunday night: roasted salmon and roasted broccoli. It was darned delicious!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Hawk's Sunday Dinner

The neighborhood hawk has been hanging around quite a bit these last few weeks, and this afternoon I was glad for him that he had finally scored a kill, since I've seen him miss out most of the time.

I was only able to snag a few shots before a strolling pedestrian at the bottom of the driveway forced him to seek safe haven elsewhere, albeit with that poor pigeon firmly gripped in his claws.

The day had started quiet but chilly, and I delighted in kicking it off with a fire, a steaming cup of winter blend coffee, and my faithful sweet companion, Sumner.

Fire No. 56: Sunday Morning

I'd even anticipated taking him for a good downtown walk as the sun warmed things up early afternoon, but then things took a turn for the grey and cold and dreary. I found myself making a second fire of the day late afternoon, and I was darned glad of it.

Fire No. 57: Sunday Afternoon

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Eggnog Tres Leches Cake

As we got closer to Christmas at the end of last week, I had finally begun to whip up some seasonal specialties that just go with the festive holiday spirit, like homemade eggnog and chocolate fudge. Last Friday night, the dessert feature that kept with this theme was eggnog tres leches cake, which is really just a fantastic concoction.

"Eggnog Tres Leche Cake," from Michele at

"Homemade Eggnog," by Beverly Sims. In Cuckoo Cooks from Gilboa Christian Church in Cuckoo, Virginia.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Meal No. 2266: 2 x 2 Soup

It was two really crappy days in a row of rain and cold to finish out last week, so on Friday night I chose the hearty, beefy, cheesy comforting goodness of 2 x 2 soup. It was a bit spicy that night, so it made us all the more glad for the dessert (check tomorrow's blog for more on that!).

"2 x 2 Soup," from various sources.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Meal No. 2265: Sheet Pan Beef Nachos

Last Thursday night, I sort of threw together a mix of ideas to create sheet pan beef nachos, and they were frickin' incredible. I regretted and then completely did not regret going back for a whole 'nother plate after I polished off my first serving. I'm-a have to make these again—soon!

Fire No. 55

While dinner was great, the day's weather was unbelievably crappy: rainy all day long, and cold! I had to have me a fire going while I was stuck at home.

Taco-Style Meat Based on "Crispy Beef Tacos," by Hilah Johnson. From

Seasoning was based on "Taco Seasoning I," from Bill Echols on

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Meal No. 2264: Roasted Salmon

I do like a thick slab of salmon, so when that's what looked so good at the seafood counter at my Harris Teeter, the menu for dinner on Wednesday was decided.

To go with it, I took the Brussels sprouts up to a gratin and also reheated some of the previous evening's mashed potatoes. All that sat happily in our bellies when we then retreated up to the 3rd floor to watch Ant-Man and the Wasp.

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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Meal No. 2263: Pork Medallions in a Ginger-Shiitake-Soy Cream Sauce

It was mighty good this past Tuesday night to be gifted with an overnight visit from former Wake Forest University grad student Dr. Bradley Phillis, now in his first year as a history professor who's also directing the program in secondary social studies education at Gardner-Webb University. We got to chat and catch up, but it was also very much a work session with great discussions about observing and coaching student teachers. I talked a lot; Bradley seemed to write a lot. And then we had dinner: pork medallions in a ginger-shiitake-soy-garlic cream sauce, with simple mashed potatoes and garden peas. There was more good conversation the following morning over coffee, before he had to head back to Boiling Springs.

Speaking of visits, I sure was glad that Dr. Todd Martin, a childhood friend from Buies Creek, who is now a professor of English at Huntington University, stopped by after Bradley's departure as he and daughter Elise made their journey back up to Indiana. Of necessity, it was all too brief, but what a delight!

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

Friday, December 21, 2018

Resupplying the Firewood

The Winter Solstice occurs this afternoon at 5:23 pm, marking the official start of that most hated season...and also giving me hope and encouragement because at least I know the days will begin slowly to lengthen. I hate winter. And the last month has been a very wintry late fall, with way too many below-normal temps and even that crazy foot-deep snowstorm less than two weeks ago. So I've burned (!) through some firewood, almost tapping out my supply in a record 11 months since the last order.

So I was glad when the guys from Bobby's Firewood could bring me a load this past Monday afternoon. It's so wet in the backyard that I just had them dump it all on the driveway, which then allowed me to indulge my OCDicity to sort it all into sizes and condition.

And, in the end, I thought I had a pretty good stacked rack to get us all through the coming months of misery. Can't wait to fire up the next, er, fire!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Eggnogging into the Christmas Spirit

Is it very nearly Christmas? Guess that means I had to make a big ol' pitcher of homemade eggnog that was sweet and good.

"Homemade Eggnog," by Beverly Sims. In Cuckoo Cooks from Gilboa Christian Church in Cuckoo, Virginia.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Meal No. 2262: Savory Beef & Broccoli Turnovers

Has it really been almost two years since I've made the delightful but savory beef and broccoli turnovers? I guess it was more than high time that I brought them back, and for the five of us sitting down to dinner on Monday night, they proved to be most suitable. A mess of garden peas were added so that there'd be something rolling around on the plate while we ate.

"Savory Garlic Beef & Broccoli Turnovers," by Kirsten Renee Shabaz of Minneapolis, MN. Taste of Home, November 2011, p. 31. (Go to for a copy of the original recipe.)

"DIY Cooking Creme," from Finding Joy in My Kitchen, 25 May 2011.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Chocolate Fudge at Christmastime

Thank goodness my eldest sibling had a hallmate at East Carolina University in the early 1970s whose sister had a fine recipe for chocolate fudge, because that's what the Jones family has depended on to make this confectious concoction for nearly 50 years now. I used to whip this up all the time, but not so much for the last five years, it seems. That might have helped it to be even more delicious and tempting this go-round.

In the foreground of the picture is the larger pan with walnuts added in; the smaller pan in the back is for thems what likes their fudge nutless.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Meal No. 2261: Lamb & Mushroom Meatloaf

Last Saturday night we had the fine fivesome of the weekend at the table to partake of lamb and mushroom meatloaf, a mess of smashed sweet potatoes, and some slightly-salty roasted broccoli florets. It was another meal that seemed to prove suitable to the occasion!

"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 (2011).

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Meal No. 2260: Braised Chicken over Brussels Sprouts

With five at the table on Friday night, while Winston was inundated with a system of heavy rain and continuing cold temps, I served up a comfort meal of braised chicken over Brussels sprouts and shallots along with delicious Southern creamed corn. Folks definitely went for seconds!

As I caught up on email with coffee that morning, I decided it was not necessary to get everybody up and evacuate them after the Roediger House was the target of an emailed bomb threat (see above).

It was such a crappy weather day that, by late afternoon, I was tired of feeling chilled and got Fire No. 54 going, and it sure made the kitchen area nice and toasty.

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

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

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Meal No. 2259: Bucatini Carbonara

After I drove in from a day's work in Richmond at Saint Christopher's School, I still wanted to whip up supper before the weekend's guests arrived from Oklahoma. Into the bowls went Linton Hopkins's winning and workable recipe for bucatini carbonara, this time with diced prosciutto instead of pancetta, and I upped both the shallots and the garlic...and it was pretty awesome for a quick weeknight meal.

I'd like to note that, before I headed up to Richmond Wednesday afternoon, there was still more shoveling of snow to be done, mostly because I had my car out on the street and it was surrounded by plowed hills and boulders of snow and mush. I did take a moment to photograph my igloo-style snowpiling from clearing the driveway at the front end of the week, which grew to no small height (if you'll note it in comparison the the sanitation cart waiting at the curb):

"Bucatini Carbonara," by Linton Hopkins. In Food & Wine, July 2009.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Meal No. 2258: Herb-Roasted Whole Chicken

The weather that hit Winston-Salem over the weekend also stretched up into the Richmond area, where they received about 14 inches of snow. That caused a rescheduling of my Wednesday work with a high school administrative team (we'll do it in January instead) and left me free to make a dinner for five of us on Tuesday night. I did an herb-roasted whole chicken, supplemented by some baked chicken thighs, and offered up Alabama great white sauce to dip it in. I also roasted spiced Yukon gold potato wedges in one pan, and garlic and parmesan asparagus spears in another pan. It all turned out pretty tasty.

"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.

"Alabama Great White Sauce" (p. 362). In Smoke & Spice, by Cheryl and Bill Jamison. Boston: The Harvard Common Press, 2003.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Meal No. 2257: Panko-Crusted Baked Bone-In Creole Pork Chops

The Monday night meal at the Roediger House involved a new recipe for panko-crusted pork chops with a Creole seasoning. The chops themselves were thinner than I'd've liked but they still baked up full of flavor. I roasted some broccoli and added simple stuffing to finish out the plate.

There was still some more lovely snow dropping down on us that morning, before it turned over to a brief period of rain. I spent a good portion of the day shoveling that dense and wet snow that, at its fullest measure, was about a foot deep.

That included the whole length of the front sidewalk (above and below)... well as a strategic path to go from the street up to the front and back doors and also to the garbage and recycling cans.

And the cold of the morning was sufficient inspiration to get another great fire going:

Fire No. 53

It was pretty cozy.

Fire No. 53

Based on "Tom's Down to the Bone Pork Chops!" from gutpyle on

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Meal No. 2256: Broccoli & Cheese Soup

By evening this past Sunday, our incredible foot-deep snow event was being frustratingly ruined by freezing rain. All that was left for me to do was to make a pot of broccoli and cheese soup for our supper, with great results.

"Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup," by ChefNini and posted to

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Slammed by a Late-Fall Snow Blast

We'd had days of warnings that we were under a pretty certain threat for a hellacious snow event over Winston-Salem, and it did not disappoint.

It was a blinding, blustery snow dump that started a little past midnight Saturday night. By morning's arising Sunday, there were already five inches on the ground and it just kept coming and coming. The final total: around a foot of snow!!

Sumner loved it! Must be the nearly one-quarter Siberian Husky in his genes, but it was for him a glorious and gratifying frolic each time I took him out.

The gusts were enough that I preferred closing up the chimney flue; that means there was no fire even though that would have been quite the cozy addition to the day.

Of course, we can't have nice things, so we did get some sleet and freezing rain beginning to mix in by early Sunday afternoon. By bedtime, it was just rain, darn it. Still, the drifts were sizable for what we are used to in this neck of the woods, and it was all quite lovely.

After dinner Sunday night, can you blame me for thinking a bit of snow cream was called for?