Sunday, April 5, 2020

Caramel Skillet Brownies

Caramel skillet brownies have proven to be (1) easy to put together and (2) deliciously tasty. I was more than happy to whip up a batch following the recent dinner of indoor pulled pork, and they were extra amazing still warm from the oven that night.

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

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Meal No. 2559: Indoor Pulled Pork Barbecue

While our city and state are in a virtual shut-down while we battle these early stages of the spread of the coronavirus, the meal last Saturday night was strangely quiet and lonely given that it's one of my go-tos when there's going to be a crowd of people here. But I'd stocked up on pork shoulder when I made my last Costco run and needed to go ahead and cook what I had, so pulled pork barbecue ended up on the evening's menu, together with a fresh batch of sweet southern coleslaw based on my mother's recipe.

Perhaps it's worth pointing out that I've just passed the 10-year mark of using this dependable recipe, which I found in an issue of Cook's Illustrated. I first used it when making Meal No. 71. Also, I was sort of surprised to look back at the blog and see that it's been nearly a year since I made this Roediger House favorite that's always so good. I guess I've been making other versions of barbecue, or sometimes sheet pan sweet pork nachos...and a couple of times I've used pork shoulders to make carne adovada.

"Indoor Pulled Pork," by Bryan Roof. In Cook's Illustrated, January & February 2010 (No. 102), p. 6-7.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Meal No. 2558: Grilled Filet Mignon with Sauce Poivrade alla Port

While I definitely enjoy my work and feel lucky that I get to do educational consulting full time, I confess to a bit of "school's out for the summer" syndrome when I wrapped up my online session with the current cohort of aspiring administrators through High Point University on Wednesday of the previous week. The sun had come out and temps were warming up a bit after a brief coldsnap and I'm looking forward to a multi-month break before I'm back on the job. I cranked up the music in the kitchen and prepped a veritable feast of some of my favorite tastes and flavors. At dinnertime, I served up grilled beef filet mignon, topped with amazing sautéed mushrooms and sauce poivrade alla port, together with roasted garlic-parmesan asparagus and red-skin mashed potatoes (that were also quite spot on!). It was overeating with zero remorse.

"Sauce Poivrade alla Marsala or Madeira," from

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Meal No. 2557: Lamb Köfte-Style Quesadillas with Yogurt Tahini Sauce

With a chill rain starting up and continuing all night long on Tuesday a week ago, my late afternoon dinner plan became the warm spiciness of Köfte-inspired lamb quesadillas, with sautéed peppers and onions, goat cheese crumbles, mozzarella cheese, and a lemon tahini yogurt sauce. I was full after three of my four triangles, but what's not to love about having some leftovers for later in the week? Plus: I had to save room for yet another one of those amazing apple crisp cheesecake bars, didn't I?

Inspired by "Lamb Köfte with Yogurt Sauce and Muhammara," from Bon Appétit, January 2010. [clipping]

Preparation and cooking based on "Quesadillas for a Crowd," by Morgan Bolling. In Cook's Country, August/September 2015, p. 18.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Apple Crisp Cheesecake Bars

When Amy and Gern were here Sunday a week ago for a low-key supper together, I was hyped to try a new recipe that I'd come across to serve for our dessert. Unfortunately, I was sloppy in allowing for the necessary cool-down and chilling time that would have been called for, but I served it up nonetheless...and we were all much happier for it! There was enough to share with them and with Mookie and Kristen, which left still plenty that sat around for a few days, begging to be indulged in, a temptation that it was impossible to resist. Behold: apple crisp cheesecake bars...a multi-bowl preparation extravaganza while putting together, but with a marvelously unique result that pleased its receivers. They were pretty incredible, and that is certainly no April Fool's joke!

"Apple Crisp Cheesecake Bars," from Meghan McGarry of [Published 03 October 2014]

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Meal No. 2556: Breakfast Casserole for Dinner

Prior to the implementation of stay-at-home orders in the last few days, many of us had already greatly curtailed our activity and interactions with others. Sunday a week ago offered a tiny interruption in the voluntary sequestration and confinement of the current Coronavirus crisis: Amy and Gern came over for dinner and to hang out a bit. They both are fans of breakfast for dinner, and that helped in making the menu choices. On our plates: savory breakfast pudding casserole, fresh fruit, and homemade creamy grits. I had promised them extra care in food handling and counter-wiping and such. Normally, we serve buffet-style, for instance. But that night I donned plastic gloves and served all the plates.

We were pretty stuffed by the time it was done, but we also were able to tackle the new dessert I tried out that night (check back for tomorrow's blog post on that special treat).

"Savory Bread Pudding," from King Arthur Flour. [recipe clipping]

Guidance for making the creamy grits: Luquire Family Stone Ground Grits, milled in Greenwood, SC.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Meal No. 2555: Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze

A week ago Saturday was the second of two gorgeous days while we all underwent another day of pseudo-quarantine (prior to the official closures and stay-at-home orders), while the Coronavirus pandemic was spreading menacingly. The forecast called for late afternoon storms that never materialized, and before the shifted winds brought back cooler temps as might befit March, I enjoyed the chance to grill pork kebabs with a zesty barbecue glaze. To go with it, I added buttered corn and some easy stovetop stuffing, all for a filling and delicious dinner.

"Grilled Pork Kebabs with Barbecue Glaze," an online extra from Cook's Illustrated and based on "The Best Way to Grill Pork Tenderloin," Issue No. 134, May & June 2015, p. 6.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Meal No. 2554: Fried Chicken Nuggets on Blue Cheese Salad

Friday night before last, with a baggie of leftover homemade fried chicken nuggets in the fridge, I whipped up a fresh batch of Chart House blue cheese dressing, ladled it onto power greens, and heated those nuggets just enough to bring 'em back to life. It made for a fine supper, even though the fried morsels and gobs of blue cheese dressing kept it from being a particularly healthy choice.

Adapted from "Chart House Blue Cheese Dressing," by Carl of the 2 Keto Dudes blog. [Published 08 November 2016]

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Deep Dish Buttermilk Chess Pie

Now that the sequestration has begun while we wait and watch what happens with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic, the Roediger House is not going to be hosting dinners. But I still hope to carefully create some shareable foodstuffs for friends and neighbors. We're all just hunkered down, trying to pay attention to the latest news while also trying to find other things to turn our minds to. The Wednesday night before last, my distraction ended up being a new recipe for buttermilk chess pie. My experience of it required a much longer baking time than the recipe called for. I let it set up overnight so's we could give it a sample the following day.

My verdict? Pretty meh. I've definitely got better recipes for chess pie so this one heads to the rubbish bin.

[EDITOR's NOTE: If you thought you'd already seen this blog post, it's because I had it scheduled and published yesterday and then I shifted it over a day to accommodate a blog entry regarding the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.]

"Deep Dish Buttermilk Chess Pie," from Rose Daly on

Friday, March 27, 2020

The Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic

A bad moon has indeed risen over our fair city, and across the land, and around the world. What initially seemed like a slow build has accelerated over the last two weeks into a surreal and unprecedented new reality: the highly-infectious rapidly-spreading coronavirus is shutting down nearly all activity. As of 5:00 pm on this gorgeous Friday afternoon, the City of Winston-Salem and all of Forsyth County will begin a Stay-at-Home order that restricts all of us to remain in our residences except for a limited set of essential needs, such as going to the grocery or pharmacy. All other activity must cease. No gathering with friends. No dashing about. No groups or meetings.

Stay at home.

The few days of work I still had on my spring calendar were already canceled, because schools in North Carolina were ordered to close and to begin using virtual learning for all their students. Nonetheless, I did still get to have an online session with the current cohort of aspiring administrators at High Point University on Wednesday...which is quite a shift from how I am accustomed to presenting.

I've made my grocery and Costco runs and did suffer some hoarding seduction...

...even though we can still venture out to get groceries and such. But so much has been cleared out of store shelves that one can't help but feel like you might be caught short if you don't overdo the planning ahead. Plus: y'all know I like to bake.

This stay-at-home order is likely to last several weeks, if not more. That's a lot of time, so this morning I got to thinking about whether I can exploit this dire situation into something productive and positive. I've always got long to-do lists and things that I wish I would work on  or try to accomplish, or lots of various recipes I want to try.

So I typed up three different kinds of tasks: (1) really enjoyable/relaxing endeavors (reading, watching a movie, trying out a new recipe); (2) some outside tasks around the yard if the weather is cooperating; (3) and a much longer list of professional and home chores/tasks/obligations that I just keep putting off. With a color-coding scheme to keep them somewhat distinct, I printed them all and cut them up (see the photo above) to put into a task bowl (as shown below).

Some tasks are certainly worth repeating, like making a batch of cookies or reading for pleasure or watching a those slips are printed larger and in red and will get tossed back into the bowl to possibly be chosen again. I figure I will devote a minimum of an hour a day (or maybe I'll do one in the morning and one in the afternoon?) on any given task I draw out. Some will be easy and quick and I'll have the satisfaction of marking them off the list. Others will be more consuming but I'll try to make myself stick with them for that minimum amount of time. They are all mixed together, but I did want the option to ignore, for instance, a bright green slip if the weather is bad, since those are the outdoor projects.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Meal No. 2553: Fried Chicken Nugget Dinner

It's pretty rare these days that I'll make fried foods, but I busted out of that prohibition last Thursday night so that I could make some delicious all-breast-meat buttermilk-brined fried chicken nuggets, deeply seasoned, and then dipped extravagantly (once cooked!) in homemade honey mustard sauce. Alongside were duck-fat-basted baby Yukon Gold potatoes that were roasted with rosemary and garlic, and a nice batch of roasted broccoli florets as well. It messed up my next-morning weigh-in but I have convinced myself they were well worth it.

Fried Chicken Nuggets based on:

"5 Minute Honey Mustard Sauce," by Lindsay of [Published 22 July 2015]

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Meal No. 2552: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes

It's exceedingly rare for me to make pancakes anymore, even though I have what (for me) is a perfect recipe for them. It was hard to think of anything that sounded better than these last Thursday morning, though, and I reckon the speed with which I wolfed them down is a fair indication of how good they were.

"Best Tips for Making Pancakes: Fluffy Buttermilk Pancakes," by Joanne on the Pioneer Woman website.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Meal No. 2551: Roasted Salmon and Asparagus

I'm not sure what we should mark as the official start of the Coronavirus COVID-19 shutdown. Schools were closed at the start of last week and then restaurants and bars were ordered to close up all in-house service beginning last Tuesday. Last Wednesday I made a grocery run and was glad to see partial restocking had occurred...although there was still quite a lot of cleaned-out shelf space thanks to the public's somewhat understandable freak-out. Fortunately, some good slabs of salmon were available and that's what I roasted that Wednesday evening, together with an abundance of garlic-and-parmesan asparagus.

Monday, March 23, 2020

Meal No. 2550: Monie's Pasta Carbonara

Back when I was a middle school teacher, I was fortunate to connect with one of the families in Raleigh in such a great way that it's a friendship that still endures a quarter of a century later. The Lawrences are dear and wonderful people and I still get to see them from time to time when they pass through Winston-Salem. But I also get to think about them when I bring out the recipe I got from Monie, a simple take on carbonara that is always delicious and is also pretty easy to whip up. I hadn't made it in quite a fact, it was one of the last meals I made before undertaking a serious weight-loss effort and this is the first time I've brought it back in almost two years!

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

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Butterscotch Budino with Coffee Caramel

The crew that gathered back on Friday March 13th journeyed up to the third floor to watch the marvelous Midsommar movie after dinner. That's what made the dessert choice somewhat ideal that night: butterscotch budino puddings with a layer of coffee caramel and fresh-made whipped cream to top it off. I clearly didn't let the butterscotch pudding layer set up well enough before topping with the caramel but the flavors were all pretty awesome.

"Butterscotch Budino with Caramel Sauce," by Frank Bruni of New York Times Cooking; adapted from Dahlia Narvaez of Pizzeria Mozza, Los Angeles.

Coffee Caramel adapted from "Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk Salted Coffee Caramel Apple Skillet Cookie," by Tieghan Girard of the Half-Baked Harvest blog. [Published 29 October 2013]

Saturday, March 21, 2020

Meal No. 2549: Pan-Seared Pork Medallions in a Ginger-Shiitake-Soy Cream Sauce

It was Amy Fernandez's birthday the week before last, and on that Friday night it was a celebration dinner for seven of us with a menu of her choosing: pan-seared pork tenderloin medallions in a ginger-shiitake-soy cream sauce; green bean casserole; and company mashed potatoes. The cream sauce was way too salty but all the plates were clean when the dishes were gathered up afterwards!

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

"Layered Green Bean Casserole," from my sister Allison in Rossville, Indiana.

"Company Mashed Potatoes," a Jones family favorite.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Meal No. 2548: Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Roasted Garlic Wine Sauce

I'm not quite sure what all got into me when it came time to make dinner back on Tuesday the 10th, but I sure took on a much larger production than is customary on a weeknight. It's the spring break visit of a friend and colleague who teaches up in Lynchburg, so perhaps I was inspired to cater to the guest of the house. Supper turned out rather decent, fortunately, in spite of all the mess and extra pans. On our plates: pan-seared chicken thighs with shallots, all covered in a roasted garlic wine sauce. I also tried out a new recipe for crispy roasted potatoes, that involved infusing duck fat with garlic and rosemary before tossing par-boiled potato cubes in it and roasting for a while on a sheet pan. After all that, I took the simple route for something green and heated up a couple of cans of garden peas. We all ate our fill, though, from this fine meal.

"Pan-Seared Chicken Thighs with Shallots in Roasted Garlic Wine Sauce," from Amie, the Day-Dreaming Optimist. Her blog is called A Meaning of An Optimist.

"Super Crispy Roasted Potatoes," from Christin Mahrlig of [Published 16 September 2014]

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Cinnamon Rolls from Laminated Danish Dough

I blogged recently about making my first-ever batch of cheese danishes, including the process of laminating the dough to create all those great fluffy layers. I still had two-thirds of that dough resting in my fridge and decided it would make a fine base for cinnamon rolls, so I improvised and went with my instincts and out came some really terrific simple treats to serve after our dinner Sunday before last.

Now, these don't have the sticky bun component derived from maple syrup and butter and brown sugar; nor do they have any pecans...both features that I associate with the unparalleled recipe for pecan cinnamon roll sticky buns shared with me by my brother-in-law and sister in Indiana...that I haven't made since Summer 2014.

However, you would be hard-pressed to find a tastier dough than what I used in these, I do believe. The many, many butter layers between this sweet dough that baked up fluffy and didn't have to have a particularly fancy filling but we found cream cheese vanilla frosting to be the terrific topper that these buns didn't even need.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Meal No. 2547: Roasted Salmon

For four of us Sunday night a week ago, it was a healthy plate of roasted salmon, roasted garlic-parmesan asparagus, and homemade mashed potatoes. Yep: that's it...the whole shebang. Well, except for the extra special dessert I served up afterwards. More on that in tomorrow's blog post!

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Meal No. 2546: Ground Beef Quesadillas

Saturday night a week ago, when I found myself uninspired and somewhat unmotivated at dinnertime, I fell back on an easy fix: taco-seasoned ground beef stuffed with lots of cheese into pan-baked quesadillas, along with gobs of sour cream. I ain't complaining, because it was all good, and there was plenty for leftovers as well.

Preparation and cooking based on "Quesadillas for a Crowd," by Morgan Bolling. In Cook's Country, August/September 2015, p. 18.

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

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

Monday, March 16, 2020

Meal No. 2545: Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

On the first Saturday of March, after spending much of the day doing interviews for candidates for the upcoming cohorts of the High Point University Leadership Academy, a relatively easy supper was called for when the dinner hour rolled around. I took comfort in steaming bowls of split buttermilk biscuits drowning in a deep pool of thick and creamy sausage gravy. Yum.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Cream Cheese Danish Pastries

When I had an unexpected day off on Thursday a week ago, I was able to indulge in two different enjoyably tedious endeavors: (1) weeding the yard by hand, and (2) trying to make cream cheese danishes for the first time ever. Do I look like I guy who's ever laminated dough? Well, as of March 6th, 2020, I am that guy.

The next morning, when I set about dividing the dough and portioning it out to make the individual danishes, I was pleased to see that remarkable display of layering that resulted from all that rolling and folding and resting and repeating. It gave me hope about the overall potential for success in this involved endeavor.

Alas, you'd think after 11 years of college, I'd be better at reading directions. I made a couple of errors there at the final stages of danish production that I'll try not to repeat in the future.

Still, the baked cheese danishes were really pretty good, and I was kind of proud of what I'd pulled off. Working with yeast doughs remains one of my weakest culinary skills...probably because I do not practice enough to perfect my processes.

"Danish Pastries," from Michelle, who blogs at [Published 03 March 2020]

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Meal No. 2544: Oven-Baked Barbecue Chicken

I'm not sure what you call it if you make dinner and serve it even earlier than the old timers' rush at the K & W Cafeteria...maybe it's best to label it "lunch" even though it looked and felt like dinner. That's what happened on Thursday a week ago, when I served up a simple pan of oven-baked barbecue chicken, along with roasted green beans and some sweet southern slaw, based on how my mother used to make it. And that's homemade barbecue sauce, too. It all proved amply sufficient for the labors and tasks of the day.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Meal No. 2543: Roasted Salmon over Caesar Greens

The dinner that I fixed Wednesday a week ago was a quick return to roasted salmon, but this time I added a fresh batch of homemade Caesar dressing and piled the salad bowl high with greens and grub. It was easy to whip it all up after I'd been down to the BB&T Ballpark for a public information session hosted by the City of Winston-Salem regarding one-way street conversions...because it's the burning topics like that that'll work up a healthy appetite in the Roediger House.

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

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Meal No. 2542: Vegetable Plate and Southern Cornbread

On the first Tuesday of March, it seemed like a great night for a big ol' vegetable plate, along with sweet southern cornbread. So I had roasted asparagus spears, cardamom and ginger carrots, and roasted cauliflower with smoked Gouda and seasoned panko. It proved to be a pretty tasty meal, given that I was mostly making it up as I went along.

"Sweet Southern Cornbread," adapted from "Golden Sweet Cornbread," from bluegirl on

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Red Velvet Cookies / Bailey's Chocolate Cookies

Monday night a week ago, I was back in a baking mood and put together two different cookie recipes. The second of those were baked up that very night: red velvet white chocolate chip cookies. That allowed me to have a plate to take and share when I was with one of my subcohorts from the High Point University Leadership Academy on Tuesday.

But that Monday evening began with me prepping the batter and dough for Bailey's Irish Cream chocolate chip cookies, and that all went into the fridge so that I could bake them a couple of days later. Both of these are pretty darned good cookies, and their recipes are posted and linked below, should you also wish to give 'em a try.

"Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies," from Holly Lofthouse of

"Bailey's Chocolate Cookies," by Ali of [Published 11 March 2012]

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Meal No. 2541: Pad Thai with Chicken

Sunday a week ago was a great opportunity to try out a pair of recipes for pad thai, which I've never quite nailed down. However, this time I think I got it exactly right, and believe me when I tell you it was incredibly delicious. I pulled ideas in from both of the recipes listed below and hope I can remember how to replicate it all when the time comes around again!

Recipe Based on:

Monday, March 9, 2020

Meal No. 2540: Souped-Up Eggs and French Yogurt Loaf

For a pre-departure breakfast Sunday a week ago, as Jason Miller was wrapping up his weekend visit to Winston-Salem, I made us a batch of souped-up eggs (with fresh chives from the kitchen garden) and paired them with slices of the French yogurt loaf I'd made the morning before. Washed down with ample cups of coffee, it was a good send-off for Jason's journey back home to Kentucky.

"French Yogurt Cake," by Andrew Knowlton. In Bon Appétit, May 2012, p. 30.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Chocolate-Butterscotch Scotcheroos

For a change of pace and a chance to return to a sentimental favorite, last weekend I whipped up a batch of the highly addictive chocolate-butterscotch scotcheroos. I should know better, because once I have them on the counter for the chocolate topping to cool and set, I'm already armed with a spoon to portion some early tastes out for myself...which seduces me into an ongoing cycle of sampling that never ends well.

"Chocolate-Butterscotch Scotcheroos," from the Rice Krispies cereal box.  I first noted and recorded this recipe in 1988.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Leaping Into February's Final Day

It's a Leap Year, and Saturday's rare occurrence of a February 29th began with a light dusting of snow here in Winston-Salem. Nothing much to speak of, and it was gone pretty quickly. But it reminded us that the early signs of spring (shown below) are not Spring itself...there's some more cold and misery to trudge through before the glory of warm sunny days becomes the norm.

The mid-life crisis of a 50-year old might be said to have afflicted the weekend's guest, my buddy from my Wake Forest grad school days. Jason drove down here from Louisville in his Porsche Boxster, which we had to take out for a drive and a revisit to the campus to see all that had changed at WFU. It was sunny but in the low 40s, but since we are in our low 50s, we had to put that top down while we tooled around:

Also, one other item to note: thanks to Sumner's sniffing around by the front porch, I spotted where my neighborhood hawk had left behind evidence of a successful hunting trip around one of my many active bird feeders: