Thursday, August 30, 2012

Meal No. 585: Oregano Chicken Stir Fry

I have a collection of recipes that I've torn out of recipe magazines over the years, without anticipating that I'd ever have a public display of what I was cooking, and therefore not worrying about keeping track of their source. I know that this recipe for oregano chicken stir-fry came from Pillsbury Classic Cookbooks, but the date of that issue or the page number are lost to me. However, here's good news if you like the looks of this easy recipe: it's online.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Meal No. 584: Baked Chicken Breasts Supreme

Two nights in a row of comfort food:

Over the years, I have gotten quite a few great recipes from my friend Cindy Coulson, formerly of Winchester, VA; then of Freeport, Maine; and now of Athens, TN, where her husband is president of Tennessee Wesleyan College. Tonight I fixed a version of baked chicken that she gave me the recipe for years and years ago, but I've never gotten around to trying. The gathered guests included at least one person of highly anti-vegetable tastes, so I sought to provide a palatable combination of side items.

These are the plates, exactly as they looked when removed from the table. No need to scrape scraps...I think people liked what they had.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Meal No. 583: Italian Pot Roast

Yet again, Cuisine at Home comes through with another terrific recipe. Tonight's trial with the latest issue was of an Italian-style pot roast, which was just delicious. First time I've had to track down cipollini, and it was a nice addition to the stewing of this roast.

A meal like this called for biscuits, and the recipe for cat head biscuits is the right one for me to keep going back to, until I get better at more traditional approaches to Southern biscuits.

"Italian-Style Pot Roast," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 95 (September/October 2012), p. 28-29.

"Cat Head Biscuits," by Cali Rich. In Cook's Country, April/May 2010, p. 12-13.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Meal No. 581: Burgers and a Movie Night

A beautiful August Sunday night, perfect for grilling burgers as an easy meal before hosting the third movie night of 2012. The mac-n-cheese casserole was especially good tonight: I toyed with the recipe by adding more sharp cheddar, a healthy dose of Gruyère, and even some goat cheese. We all said, "Wow."

Once it was dark enough, a crew of us sat outside for another movie under the stars. This time it was the hilarious mockumentary Best in Show.

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

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Meal No. 580: Jammin' Salmon on a Plank

Plank-grilled, sweet bourbon-glazed, cooked to absolute perfection: this was THE MOST AWESOME SALMON I've ever eaten. And it was actually made by me.

Pine nut and parsley Israeli couscous and seasoned lima beans were good but NOTHING LIKE THAT SALMON.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Spacing Specs for Landscaping

My enthusiasm for creating new planting and flower areas back in May was accompanied by a lack of knowledge and a healthy dose of naïveté. That's how I managed to create quite a few crowded areas. I can't believe how my vinca plants have just really taken off, even during all the dry hot weeks of this dreadful summer.

I should have followed the directions for spacing these when I read the tags on these flowers. Things are still lovely, but they're crowded and my petunias are paying some of the price.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream

A couple of nights ago, for a small dinner bunch, I made a batch of Vietnamese coffee ice cream, with decaf coffee, and it was silky smooth and delicious.

"Vietnamese Coffee Ice Cream," by David Lebovitz. In The Perfect Scoop. Berkeley: Ten Speed Press (2007), p. 35.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Meal No. 579: Chicken Salad Sandwich

Hitting the road as early this afternoon as I can, since my destination is northwest Washington, DC (and my hotel is actually in Chevy Chase, MD). So lunch needed to be easy and simple, and it was: chicken salad with diced rotisserie chicken I got a day or so ago, with just the right flavors in the dressing, and currants thrown in for good measure.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Meal No. 578: Steak au Poivre

An old favorite from long ago, when I first started being a more serious cooker-in-the-kitchen: steak au poivre, with helpfully intensive guidance from the folks at America's Test Kitchen. Their helpful article and accompanying recipe directions were an early indication for me that I could make interesting and different dishes and desserts if I would just do what people told me.

What a novel concept.

Here's a self-revelatory note that I hope shows how much I've grown or how far I've come: I think it was trying to make this recipe for the first time, back in 2001 or 2002, that forced me to learn what a shallot was and how to find them in the grocery store.

"Steak au Poivre," by Dawn Yanagihara. Cook's Illustrated, September & October 2001, p. 8-9.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Meal No. 577: Copycat Chick-Fil-A Sandwiches

After working all day next door in Guilford County, I wanted to keep it simple tonight for the small gathering of folks at dinnertime. I decided to give the copycat Chick-Fil-A sandwiches another go, and they did not disappoint. Gosh, these homemade versions are delicious. And yes, again, I ate two of them.

Credit for the recipe goes to Hilah Johnson of

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Meal No. 576: Seared Scallops over Creamy Grits

So it's been two-and-a-half months since I made this dish, and once again I let the Harris-Teeter seafood specials this week tempt me into bringing it back for another go.

Credit goes to Diane Rattray via for this recipe.

Easy Like Sunday Morning at the RoHo

Seems like there's been a lot going on lately, and I'm having trouble staying on top of it all. The last few weeks have involved a number of projects and deadlines and I've felt a bit snowed under from it all. And time off or time at home isn't usually just empty space, because something has been planned or just pops up—which I love, of course.

On this Sunday morning, after a big night with dear friends Brad and Lauren, and leaving myself a pile of clean-up to do, I took advantage of a 5:30 am arising and caught up on some email and news and my Twitter feed and also got all the dishes cleaned up and put away. I then sat down for the rare treat of Vietnamese coffee:

The self-treating didn't stop there, though: I had bought some beautiful challah bread from the local Camino Bakery, just up the street from the house. That's what I used at mid-day to make some freakin' awesome French toast:

For thems what keeps track of these sorts of things, this was Meal No. 575 in the new kitchen.

"French Toast," from King Arthur Flour online.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Meal No. 574: Stuffed Pork Rib Chops

The one thing I can claim to consistently miss about my time on faculty at Wake Forest University is the chance to work with and get to know students on their journey into teaching. My life is much richer today because of many awesome young people I had the pleasure to teach in those classes or coach during their student teaching internships, both in the undergraduate and graduate ranks at WFU.

Of course, kids grow up and move on, and since I took my own professional work in a different direction, it just gets harder and harder to maintain contact with a lot of them. It's always a delight when former students pass through Winston-Salem and make a point of stopping in and catching up. Occasionally I'll capture those moments with blog posts here and there.

It's also nice that a few of my WFU crew are still in the area, and it's even better when they are part of the Roediger House family. One of those regulars, of course, is Bradley Phillis, who's been teaching at the local Simon G. Atkins High School since 2007. He brought his delightful fiancée Lauren to dinner this evening, and I tried to do it up special. Lauren is joining the faculty at Mount Tabor High School here in town (the place where I did my own student teaching back in 1990, in fact!). That means she'll be a colleague of another former student of mine, Laymarr Marshall.

I've been burning up the recipes in one particular issue of Cuisine at Home lately: the May/June 2012 issue was full of excellent ideas and meals and sides. Tonight I followed their recommendation for Stuffed Pork Rib Chops with jalapeño-plum-pecan relish, with slight variations here and there. For instance, I used a food chopper to make the relish more relish-y:

These very thick chops were stuffed with aged Gruyère cheese, wrapped in wonderfully thin-sliced prosciutto. As I'm writing this, I am now remembering I then forgot to salt and pepper the chops before tossing them onto the grill. Shucks.

Tonight's sides included parmesan risotto and garlicky green beans, as well as that very interesting and very tasty relish:

We did start off the evening with an appetizer, just so I could give them prosciutto overload. This idea came from former 7th grade student Brendan Shanley, whom I taught in Raleigh in the mid-90s and who now lives in New Zealand, of all places. It's softened goat cheese, currants, pine nuts, and arugula, all wrapped up in prosciutto. Delicious.

We also had salads with that amazing homemade blue cheese dressing that I've been making lately.

I even got dessert made sufficiently in advance for it to chill and set up. This is CreamyTriple Lemon Pie, although the gathered crew agreed it did not need the third burst of lemon, so I left off the lemon-enhanced fresh whipped cream.

"Stuffed Pork Rib Chops with Plum-Pecan Relish," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 93 (May/June 2012), p. 26-27.

"Garlicky Green Beans," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 93 (May/June 2012), p. 34.

Parmesan Risotto, based loosely on Emeril Lagasse's directions found in "Shrimp and Asparagus Risotto Casserole."

"Rich and Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing," from Cook's Illustrated. Published May 1, 1999.

"Creamy Triple Lemon Pie," from Cuisine at Home, Issue 86 (April 2011), p. 36-37.

Meal No. 573: Multigrain Pancakes

A Mid-Day Repast

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bringing Them to Their Bees' Knees

On a recent Saturday morning I went outside with Cyprus, wearing the shirt pictured above and carrying my mug of coffee. Almost immediately, I was swarmed with bees. I kept trying to move away from them and finally just had to take my shirt off. I hardly ever see bees around here, so I guess something remarkable in nature was unfolding at just about that time. I had to leave my coffee mug behind, but it looks like that's also how I got my revenge. Not quite sure the total number of dead coffee-drenched bees I ended up with, but it was a number sufficient to please me whilst I remained under siege.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Meal No. 572: Thai Shrimp over Noodles

Tonight's dinner was an adaptation of a Thai shrimp salad over cold noodles, which I decided to convert into a warm meal (that was also darned hot, thanks to a sriracha vinaigrette!).

Mighty lucky that there was still a final piece of key lime pie in the fridge, because something drastic was needed to soothe the dreadful burn of the sriracha vinaigrette on this dish.

Recipe Based on: "Thai Shrimp Salad," in Cuisine at Home, Issue 93, June 2012, p. 44.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Meal No. 571: Barbecue Chicken Pizza

My apartment window above the Jefferson Theatre
Downtown Mall • Charlottesville, VA

At Sylvia's, and then Christian's, Pizza in Charlottesville, I loved the pizza-by-the-slice, especially in the summers when there was Friday night music at the amphitheater at the end of the Downtown Mall. (Summer 1998, I actually lived on the mall, above the Jefferson Theatre.) One of my go-to choices was the BBQ chicken pizza: always tasty. Tonight, I tried a version of it myself, and I was mighty pleased.

Still having trouble--lots of trouble--when I try to make my own pizza crust from scratch. Last night I tried another new one and it didn't rise nary a bit. But it had good flavor, so I'll not abandon it yet.

"Quick Beer-Crust Pizza," from King Arthur Flour.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Meal No. 570: Chicken with Feta Sauce

It's lost to me right now how I came across Kevin Weeks's recipe website. I'm glad I did, because he has quite a few recipes that look mighty good. One that definitely caught my eye, and which helps me indulge my love of feta cheese, is rolled chicken breasts with a creamy feta sauce. Chef Weeks also calls it "Athenian Chicken."

Alongside this evening, plain old salted-and-buttered mashed potatoes, and those garlicky green beans that were so good back in early July.

And for dessert, a nice slice of key lime pie, which was just darned good.

"Chicken with Feta Sauce," by Kevin Weeks. From Seriously Good.

"Garlicky Green Beans," in Cuisine at Home, Issue No. 93, May/June 2012, p. 34.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Meal No. 569: Chicken with Lemon & Sesame Seeds

This is definitely a meal that is not worth repeating.

"Chicken with Lemon & Sesame Seeds," in Greatest Ever Wok & Stir-Fry. Parragon Publishing (2002), p. 56-57.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Movie Night: Batman (1966)

Only the second outdoor movie night of the year, but a good one: the 1966 Batman movie with the actors and characters from the TV series at that time. Great campy fun that, on short short notice, earned a solid attendance of 13 folks.

Here, you can see some of the early crowd sitting around waiting for it to get dark enough to start the film.

Meal No. 568: Burgers on a Movie Night

The forecast for this Sunday was picture-perfect, and the wise decision was made to schedule a long-overdue outdoor movie night. It is the habit and custom here to try to throw together some grub beforehand, and juicy burgers on the grill seem like the perfect fit. Tonight, the burgers were accompanied by broccoli salad, eggy potato salad, and cream stuffed eggs (made better with the addition of come crumbled bacon, I might add!).

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

"Eggy Potato Salad with Pickles," by Jenny Rosenstratch and Andy Ward. In Bon Appétit, May 2012, p. 36.

"Creamy Stuffed Eggs" recipe from Barbara Huneycutt of Crozet, VA.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Twin City Taps & A Birthday Dinner

What a busy Saturday.

Today was the second annual Twin City Taps Craft Beer Festival, sponsored by the North Carolina Brewers Guild. (Apparently, North Carolina has the greatest number of craft breweries in the American South.) Last year it was particularly delightful, because it was held just down from the house at BB&T Ballpark, home of the Winston-Salem Dash, AND good friend and former student Byron Hoover was also on hand for it.

Not sure what all was going on, but I get the feeling this year's Twin City Taps was not as well-organized. Apparently, they didn't take care of all the permitting that they needed to, and so the festival was held at Ziggy's. That by itself is not a bad thing; it's still walking distance, albeit just a bit farther. And the day was still a good one, even though we were rained on for about 20 minutes.

Just not the same as being at the ballpark, as I'm sure you can understand.

A pretty fun crew took in the Twin City Taps today, including fellow UNC alum Steve Zorn, who was also celebrating his birthday. Steve graduated a year ahead of me from Chapel Hill, worked in DC for almost 20 years, and moved back to Winston-Salem to be closer to his aging parents, who live down in Asheboro.

Steve had a lot to do with getting the Roediger House nominated for recognition from Preserve Historic Forsyth.

After hitting most of the brewers' tents a second time, we strolled back home in time to beat the rain that hit late afternoon. But we'd already begun some outside basketball time, and we just kept on playing.

To ease any late afternoon hunger, I'd already made some southwestern dip to serve with tortilla chips:

Dinner was ribeye steaks, baked sweet potatoes, and salad with homemade blue cheese dressing.

This was Meal No. 567 in the kitchen, since the completion of the addition and renovation project.

All this activity seemed to take its toll on Cyprus.