Country fried steak | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Luckiest girl in the world

Country fried steak | The Lush's Blush blogI often tell my husband that I am the luckiest girl in the world because I have him in my life. He usually smirks and says that he’s sure there are other girls who are luckier than I. I used to say, yeah, maybe Kate Middleton. She is awfully lucky.

Last week, however, I changed my mind about even that. My husband made the most delicious country fried steak, creamed potatoes, and garlic green beans. It was a classic country dinner. I bet that Kate Middleton’s never even had it before. And so, therefore, I have concluded that I am, indeed, the luckiest girl in the world.

The funny think about my intense love of this meal is that country fried steak has never been one of my favorite dishes. I was either super hungry that night or Morgan did something extra special to the steak because I gobbled it all up and went back for more.

The recipe, he said, is very simple. He dredged the cube steak in flour seasoned liberally with salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder and fried it up. Using some reserved seasoned flour, he made a delicious gravy, which we ate on slices of bread after all the steak was gone.

The green beans he sauteed in olive oil with lots of minced garlic. He cooked the garlic just to the point of it being crispy, but not overcooked. It was so good!

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Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking, Gardening

Lettuce and onions

Lettuce and onions | The Lush's Blush blog
Lettuce and onions, also known as a wilted salad.

If I say “lettuce and onions” that likely means the start of a salad, or maybe toppings for a burger to most people. Where I’m from in Yadkin County, NC, it means something a little bit different. This time of year, in the early spring, lettuce and onions is a special treat.

When that early lovely light green lettuce and spring onions come in the garden, Yadkin County folks pick them and serve them sprinkled with a little salt and pepper, vinegar and piping hot oil poured on top. It seems like such a simple thing, but there is something about this dish that just tastes like springtime and it is so delicious. Some folks choose to use bacon grease to create this wilted salad.

I did a quick survey of some friends near and far and sure enough, those from outside the Yadkin County area just thought lettuce and onions are burger toppings. My Yadkin County friends were quick to answer though on how to prepare lettuce and onions as described above.

We typically serve lettuce and onions with pinto beans and cornbread. I remember my Mamma making this when I was little. It was always one of her very favorite meals. She’d always shoo me out of the kitchen when she was heating up the oil in the cast iron skillet. She didn’t want me anywhere near the hot oil though she wasn’t afraid of it herself. I think maybe that’s when I really felt like a true adult myself, is the first time I made lettuce and onions my own self. There is something so satisfying about the sound of that hot oil as it sizzles on the lettuce.

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Cooking

Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake

Easter Dinner | The Lush's Blush blog
Easter Dinner
We had a wonderful Easter dinner a few Sundays ago. We prepared all the traditional southern favorites, ham, green beans corn, creamed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, deviled eggs, ambrosia salad and pound cake for dessert.

As a kid I don’t remember thinking pound cake was all that special. It didn’t have fancy icing, maybe a glaze, but sometimes not even that.

Now that I’m an adult, or so they tell me, pound cake is one of my favorite desserts. No, it may not be fancy and I actually don’t even put a glaze on mine, but there’s something about it that just tastes like home.

The recipe I always make was given to my Mamma by her Aunt Grace. Both Mamma and Aunt Grace are no longer on this earth with us in body, but I sense their spirits always. And especially when I make this cake.

Great Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Crisco
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp lemon flavoring

Directions

Cream sugar and Crisco together. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt and baking powder to flour and sift together. Add flour mixture and milk to batter, alternating between the two and mixing until combined. Add flavoring. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Lemon Pound Cake | The Lush's Blush blog
Aunt Grace’s Lemon Pound Cake
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Cooking

Cookbook Review: Man Made Meals

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BBQ Pork Burgers from the Man Made Cookbook

My husband’s birthday was last month and I got him a copy of Steven Raichlen’s cookbook called Man Made Meals. Truthfully this was a pretty self-serving present for me to give my husband as I will benefit greatly from it when I get to eat all the yummy stuff he makes.

We have already enjoyed two delicious recipes from the book. The first recipe Morgan tried was the BBQ Pork Burgers. Instead of using ground beef, these burgers are made from ground pork and bacon, topped with slaw and BBQ sauce. Morgan also made homemade sweet potato fries to accompany the burgers. It was delicious. Did I mention there’s bacon in it??? Yum!

This morning for breakfast, Morgan whipped up the drop biscuit recipe from Man Made Meals, to accompany our bacon gravy and cheesy scrambled eggs. Another big hit!

If you have a man (or anyone in your life) who enjoys cooking, I would highly recommend this book. It has tons of great recipes and tips on cooking and prepping techniques.

A lot of the “man” type cookbooks I’ve come across seem more geared toward men who don’t like to cook or know to cook. While this book does have plenty of tips on basic food prep, it also has some pretty advanced meals. I would definitely recommend this book for the person who really likes to cook.

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Drop biscuits from the Man Made Cookbook
Tomato Gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Valentine’s and snow day breakfasts

Be my Valentine | The Lush's Blush blog
Valentine’s Dinner at 21 and Main

Over the weekend, my husband treated me to a wonderful gourmet steak dinner for Valentine’s Day. It was delicious. On Sunday morning, he fixed french toast. I really am a lucky gal!

On Monday morning, we got snow so I worked from home and got what I consider to be an even more special treat. I do love a fancy steak dinner, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes something as simple as good ol’ biscuits and gravy just warms the heart.

I always thought my Mamma made the very best biscuits and gravy, but my husband sure makes good gravy, too. Bacon gravy used to be my favorite, but my sweetie also makes pretty good sausage gravy. He serves it up with biscuits and scrambled eggs with cheese. I’ve never been much of an egg-eater, but I love the way my husband makes them.

Valentine's Day french toast | The Lush's Blush blog

A few years ago my husband turned me on to a different kind of gravy that his family in West Virginia makes, tomato gravy. We had been dating about a year or two when Morgan took me up to West Virginia and Pennsylvania to meet some of his family.

Snow day | The Lush's Blush blog
Snow Day

I jokingly asked if his kinfolk in West Virginia were going to make me eat squirrel. He said, of course, they wouldn’t make me eat anything I didn’t want to, but if I wanted to try squirrel, they could probably whip some up. I declined that offer, though Morgan insists if I ever tried squirrel gravy I’d probably like it.

As we were talking about gravy and such, Morgan asked me if I liked tomato gravy. Now, growing up, we often served fresh sliced tomatoes with breakfast and I thought maybe that’s what he meant. It was a favorite thing my Mamma and I liked to do. When tomatoes are fresh from the garden, those big luscious ones, you put a big slice, sprinkled with a little salt, on your plate right next to your bacon gravy. The secret is to get a forkful of biscuit and gravy along with a bite of the fresh tomato. But no, this is not what my husband meant by tomato gravy. What he was referring to is an actual gravy made from home-canned tomatoes, and let me tell you, it is delicious.

Biscuits and bacon gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Biscuits and gravy

Probably one of the most amazing things I ever saw in my life was watching Morgan’s uncle make the biggest, fluffiest, cat head biscuits you ever saw, and he made them using only one hand. He had had shoulder surgery and one arm was in a sling, but he went right on making biscuits. They served them up with the tomato gravy. One of our wedding gifts from Uncle Jerry was a jar of home-canned tomatoes. Now, that’s a special gift indeed.

We made the tomato gravy a few months ago and it was so yummy. Morgan’s cousin Shelly says you can make tomato gravy using store bought tomatoes, if you don’t have access to home-canned tomatoes.

Tomato Gravy | The Lush's Blush blog
Tomato Gravy

If you like tomatoes, this is definitely a recipe to try. It’s very simple. Pour your tomatoes into a pot over medium heat and begin to warm. Fry up some bacon and remove bacon from pan. Pour the bacon grease into the tomatoes. Then make a slurry using equal parts flour and water. Add the slurry to the tomato mixture and stir well to combine. Keep stirring until it thickens up into the consistency you like. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve it over biscuits or toast.

Do you have a favorite breakfast food? Tell me all about it in the comments section!

Happy Valentine's Day from The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking, Holidays

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Valentine's Dinner | The Lush's Blush blog
Valentine’s Dinner at Kitchen Roselli

We are coming up on one of my very favorite days! Valentine’s Day! I love pink and hearts and glitter and so, of course, I love Valentine’s Day.

My sweetheart and I have shared some super special Valentine’s over the years. One year we went to the beach and it snowed. It was quite magical. The last several years we have celebrated at a local Italian restaurant called Kitchen Roselli, which is always a magical experience. They make the most amazing cream puffs for dessert!

Probably my favorite Valentine’s Day was a few years ago when my love went all out and sent me a dozen roses and a PajamaGram! The UPS guy showed up at my office and handed me all the packages and said, “somebody must like you.” It was great fun!

This year we may not do very much for Valentine’s as we have rehearsal for a play our community theater group is doing. At any rate, just being together with my husband is always a special time.

My good friend Sarah had a most wonderful idea about a special way to celebrate Valentine’s Day that can apply to couples or singles!

“I like to acknowledge the various forms of love in my life on Valentine’s Day. Whether a smile from a stranger, a kindness from a friend, etc. it lifts me up just to notice these acts of love,” Sarah said.

If you’re looking for some special treats and projects to do for Valentine’s, check out my Pinterest board here. My good friend Le’Don also shared these recipes with us. These are some things she likes to make on Valentine’s Day for her husband.

 

Le’Don’s Valentine’s Day Turtles

Ingredients

• 1 pkg of individually wrapped caramel squares

• 1 pound pecan halves

• 2 cups milk chocolate chips

• 1 block paraffin wax

Directions

Grease a cookie sheet, place two pecan halves together. Put a caramel on top. Bake at 200 degrees until caramel is soft to the touch, but not melted (about 10-12 minutes). Remove from oven and immediately put another pecan half onto the caramel and press down. Melt the wax and chips together over low heat, then dip the candied pecan mixture in it. Place on foil to cool.

Le’Don’s Old Fashioned Cookie Recipe

Le’Don said, “This recipe is a cross between a sugar cookie and a butter cookie. It is the perfect consistency for using cookie cutters.”

Ingredients

• 1 cup softened butter

• 2 cups sugar

• 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

• 2 eggs

•1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons milk

• 2 teaspoons vanilla

• 4 cups all purpose flour

•2 teaspoons baking powder

• 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Cream butter. Add sugar and eggs beating well. Stir in milk and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the creamed mixture, mixing well. Chill. Roll to 1/8 inch thickness on a lightly floured surface; cut with assorted cutters. Place 2 inches apart on greased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack. Decorate as desired.

Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food | The Lush's Blush blog
Cooking

Bacon is the ultimate Super Bowl food

Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food | The Lush's Blush blog
Bacon, the ultimate Super Bowl food

There’s a big football game coming up soon.You may have heard about it. You may care a whole lot about the game, or not at all. But, if you’re like me, you’re at least excited about the opportunity for a party.

A big dinner party with fancy fixins is always fun, but a party with snack and hors d’oeurvres is one of my favorite kinds of parties. The Super Bowl is just perfect for hearty and fun snack foods.

For the past several years, my husband and I have watched the game at a good friend’s house. Our friend typically makes chili and hot wings, both great Super Bowl foods, and we usually bring some additional snacks as well.

I contacted him last week to see if he was planning to have his annual gathering. He said he was and he made a special request for what he wanted me to bring for the party. This item he requested is perhaps the most quintessential football party food, it’s called pig candy.

Pig candy is a most delightful concoction that I learned about from one of my favorite authors, Jill Connor Browne, author of the “Sweet Potato Queens Big Ass Cookbook (And Financial Planner).” I have spoken about the merits of this book before and will continue to do so. In fact, if you don’t own a copy of this book yet, I’d recommend you stop READING THIS RIGHT NOW and get one. Not only is the book hilarious, but it is full of delicious recipes.

So back to the pig candy. Pig candy is simply candied bacon. Since first learning of pig candy in the Big Ass cookbook I have seen multiple recipes for it. The most basic incarnation of pig candy involves coating bacon in brown sugar and baking it in the oven. I also have done it by adding in a little bit of crushed pecans or you can always kick it up a little more with a dash of cayenne pepper.

Pig candy is salty and sweet and chewy and, well, it’s bacon. How much yummier can you get?

So here’s how I make my pig candy.

Start with a pound of your favorite brand of regular bacon then cut it into about one inch pieces. Roll each bacon piece in dark brown sugar until well coated. The Sweet Potato Queen suggests using dark brown sugar and I always follow her advice. I have done it with light brown sugar once when I ran out of dark and it turned out just fine though. Once you’ve coated the bacon piece in the sugar, place it on a cooking rack on a foil-lined pan. Once you’ve got all the bacon coated in brown sugar, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, depending on how done you like your bacon.

If you want to jazz it up some, try adding finely crushed pecans to the brown sugar before rolling the bacon, or simply sprinkle a little bit of crushed pecans on top of each bacon piece. Or, if you like a little spice, add a pinch of cayenne to the brown sugar and mix it up well before rolling the bacon in the sugar.

If you’re going to (or hosting) a Super Bowl party this weekend and you make this, I promise you will be the hero of the party! You can check out my Pinterest board here with more snacky food ideas. Below are some additional links to other recipes that sound pretty good for a Super Bowl Party! Notice how they all involve bacon or cheese?

Leave a comment below and let me know what your favorite Super Bowl party recipe is!

Super Bowl Party Recipes

Cheddar Bay Sausage Balls

http://www.plainchicken.com/2014/09/cheddar-bay-sausage-balls-football.html

Bacon Ranch Beer Cheeseball

bacon-ranch-beer-cheeseball-recipe

Bacon Wrapped Pimento Cheese Jalapeño Poppers

bacon-wrapped-pimento-cheese-poppers

Spinach Artichoke Dip

spinach-artichoke-dip-12