Sweetly Salty Honey Butter

It may be an indulgence but spreading honey butter on rolls, biscuits, fresh bread, toasted bread, even pancakes, is the secret to a sweet life. It is also easy to make, with just three ingredients. I only have unsalted butter in the house (for greater control of my salt intake when cooking) and this is one place you really need some salt to bring all the flavors together. I use a flake salt, as its big pieces make a crunchy contrast to the honey. Start with a teaspoon and then add by pinches thereafter, tasting before each addition.

Honey Butter

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 tablespoons of honey
up to 3 teaspoons of a flake sea salt

Using the whip attachment on your stand mixer, whip the softened butter to loosen it a bit. Add in the honey and crush the salt between your fingers before adding it. Whip until light and fluffy. Taste for seasoning.

Cover with plastic wrap before storing in the refrigerator. Bring out to soften about an hour before use. Spread generously.

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Worcestershire Chicken

I’m the lucky recipient of some homemade saffron rolls from my friend Charlotte and I figure they’d be perfect for sopping up pan juices. This recipe is one of the first ones I ever developed –  although it came about because I spilled part of a bottle of Worcestershire sauce all over some chicken that was thawing in the pan. A happy accident that became the basis of a tasty dish.

Worcestershire Chicken

4 chicken breasts
freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 cloves garlic, minced

Score chicken breasts with about three slices on one side and pepper them lightly on both sides. Place chicken in a shallow casserole dish that has been lightly buttered. Mix together the rest of the ingredients and pour over the chicken. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake at 350º F for 45 minutes. Remove cover and bake for 10 more minutes.

White Christmas Party Mix

The New Orleans Saints are playing the Dirty Birds (aka Atlanta Falcons) on Christmas Eve, so I decided to take my usual party mix (Circles and Squares) and give it some holiday flair. If I had some red and green m&ms, I would have added them after the powdered sugar coating step.

Dirty White Christmas Party Mix

1-12 oz box of Crispex cereal
1-8.9 oz box of Cheerios cereal
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1-12 oz package of semi sweet morsels
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
1 cup confectioners sugar, divided

Stir the cereals together in a large pan. I use a disposable turkey roasting pan. In a small saucepan, melt together the butter, Worchestershire sauce and salt. Pour over the cereal and, gently but thoroughly, stir to coat. Bake in a 250 degree F oven for an hour, stirring every 20 minutes.

When there are about 20 minutes left on the baking cereal, put the semi-sweet morsels and peanut butter together in a double boiler and melt, stirring occasionally.

Remove the cereal from the oven. Pour the melted chocolate and peanut butter over the cereal and stir. Keep stirring until all the cereal is coated in chocolate. In a large, clean paper bag, sprinkle a half cup of powdered sugar. Pour in the cereal and then sprinkle on the other half cup of powdered sugar. Close and roll down the top of the bag and shake to coat all the cereal in sugar.

Cool completely on baking sheets – this takes about an hour. Store in an airtight container until time to gobble it up!

Who Dat!

Cocoa Espresso Rub for Ribs

It has been cold and rainy here in New Orleans. I wanted ribs but I didn’t want to have to actually go outside to deal with the grill. Therefore, I’m going to cook them in the oven.

I needed a rub that has a lot of smoked flavor, so I started with some chipolte powder and paprika. I also wanted some depth so I used a trick from steakhouses to add a dry aged flavor by using instant espresso, cocoa powder, salt and pepper. A little brown sugar to counteract any bitterness from the espresso and cocoa and I had an awesome rub.

Cocoa Espresso Rub for Ribs

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
2 teaspoons cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/2 teaspoon chipolte powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

Put all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix with your fingers to break up any lumps. Store any extra in an airtight container.

Chocolate Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I purchased a container of Creole cream cheese the other day for a recipe that I couldn’t get the other ingredients for. As I’ve been craving chocolate, I thought I’d make a cake with it. I have a recipe for a pound cake that uses this uniquely Louisiana treat and a recipe for chocolate pound cake and I decided that combining the two should hit the spot.

It makes a deep chocolate cake that isn’t too dense, as the Creole cream cheese adds plenty of moistness to the batter. I had a slice with a big glass of milk and it was wonderful.

If you don’t have access to (or don’t want to make) Creole cream cheese, for this recipe I would substitute sour cream.

Chocolate Creole Cream Cheese Pound Cake

2 cups cake flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup Creole cream cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons cinnamon sugar, optional

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Butter and flour two loaf pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream unsalted butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, 1 at a time. Stir in vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with Creole cream cheese. Stir in pecans. Pour half of batter in each prepared pan. Sprinkle cinnamon sugar over batter.

Bake 75–80 minutes, rotating the pans midway through baking. Cook until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 20 minutes then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.

Pound cakes freeze well, so wrap the second one well with plastic wrap and seal in a zip top bag for a cake for any occasion.

Honey Glazed Ham Plus Applesauce and Brussel Sprouts

We found big, bone in butt portion hams on sale after Thanksgiving. So, we bought a 10 pounder and put it in the slow cooker for the day while we went about our business (Michelle spent the morning visiting with her 96 year old Grandpa, who isn’t feeling well and I did laundry, vacuuming and took a nap).

Sliced ham, Brussel sprouts and applesauce

Honey Glazed Ham

10 lb ham
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup apple juice (can use water)

Cut diamond patterns on the ham. Mix together the honey, brown sugar and cinnamon and spread over the ham. Pour the 1 cup apple juice into the bottom of the slow cooker and slide in the glazed ham.

Turn the slow cooker on to low and cook about 45 minutes per pound, basting occasionally with the juices in the cooker. Internal temperature of the cooked ham should be 140-145 degrees F.

Slice thin to serve.

We served the ham with homemade apple sauce and some Brussel sprouts.

Homemade Applesauce

4 Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
dash salt

Peel, core and dice the apples. Place in a mixing bowl with water and a splash of lemon juice until ready to cook.

Heat water and butter in a large skillet, I prefer cast iron. Once the water comes to a boil and butter is melted, add the apples.

Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly until the apples start to break down. Add brown sugar and cinnamon and salt. Continue to stir, pressing down to further break down apples. Taste and adjust sugar and seasonings once the applesauce is of your desired consistency.

I hated Brussel sprouts as a kid. They smelled bad and tasted horrible. There wasn’t enough butter in the world to make them palatable.

I then discovered a great way to make them. They are almost but, not entirely, unlike French fries with this method. Instead of olive oil in the pan, consider using bacon fat for added richness.

Skillet Fried Brussel Sprouts

about 10 Brussel sprouts per person
a couple glugs of olive oil
generous pinch of kosher salt

Peel off the loose external leaves and slice off the root end before cutting Brussel sprouts in half. Toss in olive oil to coat. Heat skillet over high heat. Toss Brussel sprouts with salt.

Pour a little oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Once it begins to shimmer, place Brussel sprouts cut side down in skillet and let cook until that side is brown. Turn over and continue to cook for 2 -4 minutes more.

Serve immediately.

Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

I love tacos and there is something comforting about plain ground beef with a little sprinkle of cumin and then lots of yummy toppings. Sometimes, though, I want to kick things up a notch in the meat department but I want something better than just sprinkling a seasoning packet over ground meat. Here is a version that comes together quickly and tastes like you spent hours on it.

Kicked Up Ground Beef Tacos

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried cilantro leaves
1/4 teaspoon chipolte powder (or cayenne pepper)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup tomato sauce
1/2 cup chicken broth (or beef broth)

Preheat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Sauté the diced onion for 5 minutes, stirring as necessary.

Meanwhile measure out and combine all the dried spices. When onions are translucent, put garlic  into the skillet and add spice mixture. Cook and stir for 1 minute to bloom flavors.

Add ground beef to skillet. Use a wooden spoon to break up the meat. Cook for 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the skillet to prevent scorching.

Once the beef is no longer pink, siphon off fat. Then, stir in tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then turn heat down to medium-low. Continue to simmer until liquid has thickened, but not completely dry, about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently. Adjust salt and pepper, if necessary.

Place in serving bowl and serve with taco shells, refried beans, pepper jack cheese, sour cream, guacamole and other toppings of your choice.