Roasted Bok Choy (And a Delicious Runny Egg)

Roasted Bok Choy (And a Runny Egg)

These days it seems people live to disagree, and boy is there a laundry list of items that can get them riled up:
Around here you'll hear people get passionate about cabbage slaw on their North Carolina barbecue sandwich. Pile it on for me! But you better not let a spec of it make its way on to my dad's or my husband's sandwich. That's passion, right there.

I adore cabbage. Raw and sprinkled with salt is how Maw Maw used to give it to me when she was making slaw for our family fish fries. (Not too much, now, or you'll get a belly ache, she'd say.) Steaming it and coating it with butter is my favorite preparation on busy nights. I have two raised garden beds this year, and I planted four heads of cabbage. (I have three left, thanks to Mr. Bunny.) So yeah, in my experience people either love cabbage or they hate it, but there's not much in between.

And then there's the one thing that everybody has an immediate reaction to: a runny egg. (Go ahead. Turn to your friend or co-worker right now and ask them yay or nay.) I love a runny egg. Over grits, over buttered toast, over noodles, over brown rice, over Ramen, over pretty much any vegetable—including cabbage—and over bok choy to be exact.

So this roasted bok choy (and a delicious runny egg) served over brown rice was a perfect dinner for me. It was fresh, salty, spicy, and quick. (Did you catch that Oxford comma?) And cheap! In my opinion you just can't go wrong with fresh cabbage and a delicious runny egg. Debate closed.

Get the recipe for Spicy Roasted Bok Choy from The Wheatless Kitchen.


Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts

Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts

I hail from the land of the original glazed doughnut, and to this day they're my favorite kind. There are few bites as good as a warm, sweet Krispy Kreme doughnut, hot out of the fryer. They melt in your mouth. You can never hide the fact you just ate one (say, on your lunch break, in the car) because the whisper-thin layer of sugar that gently coats them flakes off at the slightest touch, leaving a trail of tell-tale sweetness on your shirt. And they're even still divine with a cup of hot coffee the next day. I used to work with an editor named Mike who had the rewarm protocol down pat. "It only takes 8 seconds," he'd say. "Any less is not enough. Any more is too much." Around these parts, Krispy Kreme was a religion unto itself for a long, long time.

Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts

But then something happened. That other donut-maker came to town. The one with the shortened spelling. The one that sold not only regular-size donuts but also the center out of each. (What a concept! They were ahead of their time! A mini dessert before bloggers! Before Pinterest!) I remember my mom getting us a box of donut holes every now and then, and I always picked out the chocolate cake ones. And I still love them. I'm not a traitor. Sometimes you need an original glazed doughnut, and sometimes you need a chocolate cake donut hole. There are seven days in the week, afterall.

Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts

It's those chocolate-cake donut holes that inspired these homemade miniature St. Patrick's Day donuts. The texture of these donuts is cake-like, too, just like my beloved chocolate donut holes. These are also mini—the perfect size for little hands to dunk, sprinkle, and steal them right from under my nose. And the sprinkles? One might say they're magically delicious. Perhaps they'll help me find my pot o' gold this St. Patrick's Day! But then again, maybe a dozen of these cuties, shared with my babies, is all the treasure I need.

Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts

Mini St. Patrick's Day Donuts
Adapted from Sugar and Cloth
Makes 2 dozen.
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1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp plus 2 tsp half and half, plus more as needed
1/4 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 drops green food color
Sprinkles, optional

1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat donut pan with cooking spray.
2. In large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk butter, sugar, egg, milk, and vanilla. Stir wet ingredients into dry.
4. Fill donut pan no more than 3/4 full. Bake 7 to 9 minutes. Let cool 1 minute in pan before moving to wire rack to completely cool.
5. Meanwhile, make the glaze. Whisk together half and half, vanilla, and powdered sugar. If glaze is too thick, add 1/4 tsp half and half at a time until you reach desired consistency. Whisk in food color. Dip cooled donuts into glaze and return to wire rack. Immediately add sprinkles to wet glaze, if desired. Let set 10 minutes before serving. Store in an air-tight container.

Chocolate Butterscotch Muffins

Chocolate Butterscotch Muffins

Why chocolate? Let me count the ways.

Because my 7-year-old is begging for bakery-style muffins that cost $5 for 2, but I know I can whip up an entire recipe of them at home for a lot less. And yes, he wants those huge ones that are soft, slightly chewy, and incredibly chocolaty—chocolaty to the point they leave your fingertips coated in delicious chocolate goo to enjoy after the last real bite. This recipe is a lot like that, but these muffins are smaller and aren't filled with three days of calories. That's why chocolate.

Chocolate Butterscotch Muffins

Why chocolate? Because I spent the better part of Saturday in the backyard with my daddy, my kids, and my dear husband, building and installing two of three raised vegetable garden boxes. And two of three means all that hoeing, digging, raking, and carting clods of grass in the wheelbarrow isn't finished because there is one more box to go. That's why chocolate.

Chocolate Butterscotch Muffins

Why chocolate? Because although I did all that yard work this weekend I actually felt okay this morning! No bumps, no bruises, no aching bones. Hallelujah. But that all ended when I reached across the kitchen sink to water my still-beautiful Valentine hydrangeas and pop! went something in my back. It's my first true back pain and it has me thinking (read: worrying) man oh man is this what the future is going to be like? That's why chocolate.

Now excuse me while I go grab another muffin. It's for my back! I promise....

Chocolate Butterscotch Muffins
Adapted from Handle the Heat
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2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup cocoa, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsp instant coffee dissolved in 2 tsp water, optional
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1. Heat oven to 375 F.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. In medium bowl, whisk together butter, buttermilk, eggs, vanilla, and coffee. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate and butterscotch chips.
4. Divide batter among 12 paper-lined muffin cups. Bake 18 to 20 minutes or until cake tester inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack about 5 minutes before removing to cool completely.


Cheesy Baked Beef and Noodles

Cheesy Baked Beef and Noodles_Lede

There are only a few basic things you need to know about this recipe.

1. I made it three times in a month.
2. One of those times was Christmas Day. All my guests raved.
3. It's easy and inexpensive and it feeds a lot of people. Just add a crisp, vinegary salad to cut the cheesy richness.
4. Every time I serve it someone asks for the recipe. So obviously it'll make you famous in your 'hood.
5. Best of all? Leftovers are even more delicious. That means Sunday lunch easily becomes Monday dinner. Bam.


Cheesy Baked Beef and Noodles

Cheesy Baked Beef and Noodles
Adapted from Together as Family
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1 lb ground beef
Half a white onion, chopped
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
Pinch of nutmeg
1 15-oz can tomato sauce
1 12-oz bag egg noodles
1 8-oz container sour cream
1 16-oz container cottage cheese
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. In large pan over medium-high heat, brown ground beef until no pink remains. Add onion, Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, and nutmeg. Cook, stirring, until onion is soft. Add tomato sauce and bring to a simmer.
3. Meanwhile, cook egg noodles as directed on package.
4. In medium bowl, combine sour cream and cottage cheese. Set aside.
5. Drain noodles and stir them into sour cream mixture.
5. Coat 9-inch-by-13-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Start with half the noodles, and then half the beef, and finish with 1 cup cheese. Repeat all three layers. Bake 20 minutes or until bubbling.

Old-Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies

Old-Fashions Drop Sugar Cookies

These cookies were one of my Maw Maw's favorite recipes. The original version was written by a woman named Jane who at one time attended our church. I only remember from her time at a local nursing center that I often visited with my Girl Scout troop. She was a gentle lady, and she stands out in my memory because she carried around a stuffed gray kitten; it was her baby. I remember thinking what a wonderful grandmother she must have before she was unable to remember the life around her. If I close my eyes and think hard enough, I can still feel her frail shoulders and hear her tiny singsong yet unintelligible voice. There was a particular small giggle she would make when you paid attention to her kitten. It was sad and darling at the same time.

Interestingly enough, I remember making these the last Christmas season Maw Maw was able to communicate—she had also started to quickly lose the ability to talk because of her Alzheimer's diagnosis. She was so easily frustrated back then, and I can only imagine what it must be like to think something, to will your lips to move, yet be unable to make that happen. But we got along well in the kitchen, and making these cookies together will always be one of my fondest memories of her and of holiday baking.

It's unfortunate that sometimes our most vivid memories of someone are the ones tied to less pleasant moments. It can be hard to pull a silvery thread of happiness from the back of your mind, one tied to the moments where you can still hear your grandmother hum. But the more often I make these cookies, the easier it is to remember. They're literally a sweet reminder of two sweet women. I can only hope that one day when I'm old and gray that my granddaughter will remember our precious moments together, that she'll pull out this recipe and make cookies for her children, too.

Old-Fashions Drop Sugar Cookies

Old-Fashioned Drop Sugar Cookies
By Confabulation in the Kitchen
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These crisp, crumbly, buttery cookies are guaranteed to melt in your mouth. I tend to make them when the mercury just starts to drop, and I like to top them with seasonal sprinkles, which add a delicious pop of sugar when you chew. My husband, who's from Down East North Carolina, says his Aunt Carolyn also makes these (without the sprinkles), but she calls them tea cakes, which is a wonderful old Southern idea. (And hers are equally delicious!) Serve these cookies piled on a plate with a pot of hot coffee or tea.

4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. In medium bowl, whisk together flour through salt.
3. In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until fluffy. Add oil, eggs, and vanilla and beat well.
4. Using a cookie scoop, drop mounds of dough onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Decorate if desired. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, or until cookies are brown on the edges and just golden on top. Let cool at least 3 minutes before moving to wire racks to completely cool. Store in an airtight container with wax paper between layers.