My brother-in-law had left some pork blade steaks the last time they were here and I’m only just finding them in the back of the freezer. Oops! I decided to combine my honey mustard marinade with my root beer mustard and the result was delicious.
These were fairly thin, so I grilled directly over the coals. They came out juicy with a sweet but tangy glaze. Yum!
Honey Mustard Glaze
4 pork blade steaks or pork chops
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup spicy brown mustard
1 cup root beer (I prefer Abita Root Beer as they sweeten with cane sugar not high fructose corn syrup)
2 tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside ⅓ cup of the mixture to glaze the pork once on the grill. Pour the rest in a zip top bag and put in the pork steaks or chops. Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Grill on a 350 degree direct fire grill for 7-10 minutes on each side or internal temperature is 145 degrees F. Baste with reserved sauce when you flip over the steaks.
I like the flavor of soda bread but I didn’t want to make a loaf. These muffins still have the flavor profile of soda bread but can be individually frozen. I used the King Arthur Flour recipe as my stepping off point but I didn’t have whole wheat flour, currents or caraway seeds. Michelle loves blueberries, so I converted the recipe to give her a happy treat for the holiday.
It is St. Patrick’s Day, so I topped them with a sprinkle of green sparkling sugar! The added sweet was more of a bonus for me but these are delicious muffins that are super quick to make.
Soda Bread Blueberry Muffins
2 ¼ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 cup blueberries
1 large egg
1 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Lightly butter a muffin pan, or line it with baking cups. This recipe makes at least 12 muffins, more if your blueberries are on the large size.
In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Add the blueberries and stir to cover them with the flour mixture. This will keep them from sinking in the batter. In another bowl, whisk together the egg, yogurt, and butter. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl the with dry ingredients. Gently combine the dry and wet ingredients just until everything is evenly moistened and there is no loose flour. Be careful not to over mix.
Spoon the thick batter into the baking cups. Bake muffins for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then move the muffins to a wire rack to finish cooling.
Classic chess pie pairs a traditional buttery pie crust with a sweet, custardy filling. Michelle and I had a great version at High Hat Cafe that used Creole Cream Cheese. Country Roads Magazine posted the High Hat Cafe’s recipe a few years ago and we used that as the stepping off point for our pie.
I picked up the Creole Cream Cheese at Dorignac’s Food Center but you can make your own (recipe here) if you aren’t in the area. As chocolate makes everything better, we added a little cocoa powder both for flavor and to cut the sweet a bit.
The end result is a creamy chocolate pie with a slight tang. Delicious!
Creole Cream Cheese Chocolate Chess Pie
16 ounces Creole cream cheese at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa (I use Hershey’s Special Dark), sifted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
pinch of salt
1 frozen deep dish or 10″ pie crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Prick the bottom of the pie crust with a fork and par-bake the pie crust for 15 minutes.
Drop oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
Whip eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, butter and salt in stand mixer until well incorporated. Add in the Creole cream cheese and cocoa powder and mix until smooth. Pour into the pre-baked pie crust. Bake the pie for 60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until set in the middle. Let cool before serving.
There is just something pleasing and comforting about a cheese sauce. And, when you have a sister willing to scale up the recipe SIX times, there will be plenty of both pleasure and comfort to go around. As you can see from Mom’s recipe card, the original only serves four and the pot I’m holding it over contains over a gallon of cheese sauce.
We go a step further than just cheese on toast – which there is absolutely nothing wrong with and will be how I eat the leftovers. Instead, we toasted up English muffins then put on some sliced ham (Canadian bacon would have been great, too) and a thick slice of tomato before we ladled on the sauce.
Smooth and delicious and I was tempted to lick the plate. Instead, I toasted up another English muffin and used it to wipe the plate clean.
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup beer (or milk)
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
In the top of a double boiler, melt butter. Add flour to make a paste. Add in beer (or milk) gradually, stirring constantly. After mixture thickens, lower heat and stir in the seasonings. Add the grated cheese by the handful and stir until mixture is smooth. Taste for seasonings.
Serve immediately on toast.
I love lemon curd but wanted to do something a little different than my standard lemon pie. I used as a stepping off point a copy of the Tartine Bakery’s Lemon Cream recipe that I clipped from a newspaper almost 20 years ago.
Because there is so much whisking involved to get the lemon cream, I cheated on the pie crust. Instead of making my own, I used frozen tart shells from Dutch Ann. To pre-bake the pie shells: thaw and prick bottom and sides of shells with a fork and bake at 350 degrees F, 12 to 14 minutes.
Pure lemon flavor. I ended up eating what didn’t get baked into tarts with a spoon. It makes a delicious lemon pudding on its own.
Lemon Cream Tarts
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup sugar
1 pinch salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
8 tartlet shells (I used Dutch Ann Frozen Tart Shells), pre-baked
Combine the lemon juice, whole eggs, yolk, sugar, and salt in the top of a double boiler set over low heat and prepare to stir for a while. Try not to leave the egg yolks and sugar for more than a moment or two without stirring; the sugar will cook the yolks. Whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 degrees F on a thermometer. This will take at least 15 minutes. It is thick enough when the whisk leaves a trail through the curd.
Remove the bowl from over the water and let cool for about 5 minutes, stirring from time to time to release the heat.
Meanwhile, cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces. When the cream is ready, pour it into a blender. With the blender running, add the butter 1 tablespoon at a time, blending after each addition until incorporated before adding the next piece. The cream will be pale yellow and opaque and quite thick.
Pour the lemon cream into the pre-baked pie shells and bake for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F.
Store any remaining lemon cream in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
I was browsing the recipe sections of butter websites, as one is wont to do if one is a southern baker, and came across a recipe for Praline Popcorn. I used their recipe with only minor alterations to make southern style caramel corn.
I use a LÉKUÉ microwave popcorn popper so I can make popcorn quickly, with less mess than on the stovetop but without the additives and extra salt and fat found in most commercial microwave popcorn. To pop enough for this recipe, I used ⅓ cup of kernels, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil, ¼ teaspoon popcorn salt. It made more than eight cups but my dad kept stealing from the bowl, so I used what was left. The brown sugar/butter sauce will coat up to 10 cups of popcorn.
The pecans are lovely after being cooked slightly in the butter and brown sugar. The sweet caramel sauce added to the lightly salted popcorn makes a delicious treat.
Praline Pecan Popcorn
8 cups popped popcorn, lightly salted
1 cup pecans, chopped into pieces
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 250°F.
Place the popcorn in a large bowl.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and butter. Bring to a boil and add in the pecan pieces, stirring regularly.
After boiling for five minutes, remove from heat and stir in vanilla and baking soda. It will bubble up but stir until the chemical reaction completes and then pour the hot sauce over the popcorn and toss to coat.
Transfer mixture to a large rimmed baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. Sometimes it is easier to pour it back into the large bowl to stir. Return to the baking sheet and continue baking. After 30 minutes, spread out onto foil or parchment paper to cool for at least 10 minutes before eating. Once cool, break apart to eat.
Store any remaining praline pecan popcorn in an airtight zip top bag.
It is my mom’s birthday weekend, so I made French Toast for her. I have a super simple recipe that I use but I do recommend using whole milk. As we only had no-fat milk in the fridge, I changed my morning walk to include a gas station food mart where I picked up a pint.
Any good bread would work. I’m using a loaf of brioche. The better flavor the bread you begin with, the better French toast with which you end.
Super delicious – the interior of the bread is creamy and the outer edge was scented with the vanilla and cinnamon. She loved it and we did, too.
Easy French Toast
1 loaf good quality bread
2 cups milk
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
Half a stick of butter
Slice the bread into 1 inch thick slices. Heat a flat bottom skillet until a droplet of water skitters across the surface.
Make the custard by scrambling the eggs into the milk in a pie plate. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon and whisk until combined. The cinnamon will float but that’s good as it means each piece of bread will get a little coating of cinnamon.
Use the stick of butter to grease the pan. Dredge two pieces of bread through the custard and place on the heated pan. Cook until one side is golden (about 3 minutes) and then flip. Once it is the desired doneness, remove and continue cooking the rest of the loaf. Keep the pieces warm on a rack in a 200 degree F oven.
Serve with maple, cane or Karo syrup. To be fancy, you could add a dusting of powdered sugar.
I had planned on a different prep for this recipe but the shrimp I had were pretty small. Therefore, I decided to slice the lemons and use them as a base to keep the shrimp from dropping through the grill basket.
It worked really well for the grill – I think I only lost 2 shrimp to the fire!
If you don’t want to grill the shrimp, you could always put a layer of lemon slices on a sheet pan with the marinaded shrimp on them and bake at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes or so.
I also used Penzeys Greek Seasoning for the marinade. You could certainly make your own – see below for a recipe.
I served them with grilled zucchini (quartered into spears and tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper – grill them maybe 5 minutes longer than the shrimp) and rice.
The shrimp are really flavorful with both the spices, the grilled lemon and smoke. As this was for my mom’s birthday, I was super glad they turned out perfectly.
Grilled Greek Lemon Shrimp
1 ½ lbs of shrimp, peeled and deveined
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Greek Seasoning
Juice one lemon. Mix together the olive oil, spice blend and lemon juice. Pour into a zip top bag and add the shrimp. Gently massage the marinade into the shrimp and then seal and place in the refrigerator while you set up the grill (no more than 30 minutes).
Set up the grill for direct cooking. I use a Weber kettle and used a half a chimney of charcoal briquettes. After they got ashy, I spread them evenly over the center of the grill, in the shape of my grilling basket.
Thinly slice the remaining lemons. Place a single layer of the slices in the bottom of the grill basket and then spread the shrimp over the slices. Close the basket so no shrimp can escape. Grill for 5 minutes with the lemon side down. Flip and grill for 3-5 more minutes or until shrimp are done. They will be pink, opaque but not too firm to the touch.
Remove from grill and place shrimp in a bowl. Squeeze some of the lemon slices over the shrimp and serve.
You could definitely make your own Greek Seasoning. I’m at my parents and the blend was easier than mixing up my own. Here is my recipe:
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
Mix together all the spices and store in an airtight jar.
I’ve posted my recipe for Chocolate Cherry Sourdough Scones but, as I left my starter at home this trip, I needed to make my original version for breakfast New Year’s Eve.
The recipe makes 8 beautiful, large scones. You could do an egg wash on them but I like the melted butter.
They are moist and well flavored with the bittersweet chocolate and cherries. By roughly chopping the chips and cherries, you make sure there is a bit of each in every bite.
So very delicious!
Chocolate Cherry Scones
3 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
1 cup dried cherries, roughly chopped
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips, roughly chopped
½ cup whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 to 4 tablespoons melted butter
8 tablespoons sugar mixed with 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon for topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. With a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add cherries and mix well.
Whisk together egg, milk and vanilla. Make a well in center of mixture and pour in milk mixture. Add this to the flour mixture and mix. Add in the chocolate chips and mix until just combined.
Turn dough out onto lightly floured work surface. With your hands, shape into a loose ball. Cut the dough ball in half. Flatten each half into a round about 6 to 8 inches and cut into 4 wedges. Place wedges on a baking sheet, being sure to separate each wedge so there is at least an inch between wedges. Generously brush with melted butter and sprinkle each scone with about a teaspoon of the sugar/cinnamon mixture.
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm.
To freeze baked scones, let them cool completely and then wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Freeze up to 3 months. When ready to eat, let thaw at room temperature or in the fridge overnight. Heat them up in the microwave for about 30 seconds to eat them warm.
This is a recipe that you can scale up or down, based on how many people will be at the table. The below recipe is for four people.
Once you’ve built the casserole, it can stay in the fridge for up to 8 hours before cooking. Makes it very useful to make ahead to slide into the oven when you get home from your holiday shopping.
Feel free to adjust with your favorite cheeses and herbs. Michelle wants to do it again with salsa in with the milk and pepper jack cheese in place of the Gouda. I think that will be delicious!
This is a very comforting dish and everyone at the table was a member of the clean plate club.
Ham and Cheese Croissant Casserole
1 day-old croissant per person, cut in half
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon dried thyme
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 thin slices ham, diced
1/2 cup sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/2 cup Gouda cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 350°F and butter a casserole baking dish. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, thyme, eggs, salt, and pepper. Pour into a pie plate. Dip croissants in egg mixture, then arrange in baking dish. Distribute ham over the bread. Pour remaining egg mixture over the croissants and sprinkle the top with the cheese.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until cheese bubbly on top, 5-10 more minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.