Except for this bullet hole, I’m fine!

Beef / January 18, 2016


Last week we hosted my mom, Lenis and my step-father Ted to a week in the Queen City. Symphony, BBQ, shopping, TV studio tours, and of course some southern cuisine. With all that shuttling back and forth we had lots of time for fun chatter that included some hilarious one-liners that will become a permanent part of my vernacular.

Case in point, during a shopping trip to TJMaxx, we asked Ted if he wanted us to look for some new duds for him. Not that he needs any, (he’s a sharp dresser!) it just seemed polite to ask him if part of our shopping time should be spent looking at things for him. His response was hilarious.

“Nah, I’m good. And except for the bullet holes this old coat works great!”

An instant quote to adopt, don’t you think? Seems all of us are hiding a hidden bullet hole, are we not? One way or another, we cannot escape life and its lessons as they run clean through us like a 44 caliber lead slug shot from a gun. It makes me realize that what is most endearing about those we love is the fact that they’ve survived with nobility … and we rarely factor in their quiet heroism.

It’s kind of like cooking, really. Good food is only the result of techniques perfected through utter failure. One cannot produce an amazing souffle, or an exquisite sauce without having ruined at least one pan or scraping burnt batter off the bottom of an oven. What eventually goes on the table is never something arrived at without sweat and a few tears. And unless you’re tearing the plastic off a tray microwavable lasagna, (Please tell me you won’t do this!) your hard work next to the stove gives one a sense of satisfaction that is really quite euphoric. And then, bullet holes and all, you arrive triumphantly to serve, nourish, and share with those you love.

Enjoy the photos and then ALL the recipes I cooked are at the end of the post. As for me, I’m heading out to buy a flack jacket today.

So many things to do in the Queen City. Baked French toast above, then a trip to Fort Mill to eat at “Local Dish.” A tour of WSOCTV is the photo at the beginning of the blog, and an evening with the Charlotte Symphony helped us make some great memories. Plus a delicious dinner of fresh Cod, Black Lentils, Roasted Golden Beets and Quick Pickled Leeks had us licking out plates!
Enjoying Fresh Blackberry Muffins for breakfast started the day that ended with Peach Salsa Baked Chicken and Creamy Rice.

No visit to my house is complete without the girlfriend night. Delicious mini Greek Meatloaves, sauteed root vegetables, and of course two of Sue’s delicious pies: Turtle Pie and Key Lime.

At least once a month we gather and eat well. Even giant bullet holes that seem like they’ll never heal suddenly close up. How? With love, and a spoonful of whatever you’re making tonight.


Baked French Toast With Fresh Blackberry Syrup

Serves 4


8 slices of your favorite bread. I like
the Pepperidge Farms French Bread.
5 eggs
½ C milk
½ C cream
1 t vanilla
1 C chopped and toasted pecans
Pinch of salt
1/4 C plus 2 T sugar
1 t cinnamon
Pint of fresh blackberries
4 T butter, divided
Powdered sugar for serving


  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. With 1 T of the butter, grease the inside of a small 7 inch by 10 inch glass baking dish. Layer each slice of bread, overlapping, inside the dish.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, cream, milk, 2 T sugar, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla. Blend extremely well beating either by hand or with a hand mixer until smooth. Pour the mixture over the bread. Push down gently so the bread soaks up the eggy mixture. At this point either refrigerate overnight or for at least 30 minutes. I did it for only 30 minutes and it turned out amazing! Then sprinkle the toasted pecans on top.
  • Bake for about 25 minutes, or until golden and puffed.
  • While the French toast is baking, melt 3 T butter in a small saucepan. Add the rinsed and dried blackberries and the ¼ C sugar. Bring to a low boil, stirring. Then reduce and let it barely bubble for about 5 minutes, until the back of a spoon is coated. Remove and let cool.
  • To plate, cut a slice of the French toast and place on a plate, ladle with the syrup, sprinkle with powdered sugar!

Baked Cod with Mustard Cream Sauce

Black Lentils, Golden Roasted Beets and Quick Pickled Leeks

Serves 4


4 6 ounce fresh cod filets, patted dry
2 large golden beets, scrubbed and wrapped loosely in foil
2 stalks leeks, the white part thinly sliced into rings
1/3 C mild olive oil, divided to use in all preparations
½ cup black lentils, rinsed and drained
½ C mild vinegar like champagne or peach
1 T sugar
2 heaping t yellow mustard
½ C heavy cream
½ C chicken stock
¼ C white onion thinly sliced
1 ½ C water boiling
Handful fresh basil leaves
1 t fresh thyme leaves
Clove of garlic chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 T butter


  • Place the thinly sliced leeks in a small bowl. Cover with the vinegar and sugar and a little salt and pepper. Let cure for at least an hour.
  • Then take the wrapped golden beets and cook in a 400 degree F oven for 55 minutes. Remove and take foil off and cool. When you can touch them, take a paper towel and rub the outside of the beet. The skin will come off fairly easily. Then slice thinly and set aside.
  • Bring the water to boil and then add the lentils. Cook to the package directions. (Partially covered, low and rolling boil.) I cooked them for about 25 minutes adding the chopped garlic in with the lentils. When they were done, I added the fresh basil and stirred it in, keeping it warm until it was time to plate the meal. Season well with salt and pepper. Black lentils are earthy and rich but bland! They’ll need some salty love.
  • Now, drizzle a little olive oil in a small baking dish, just large enough to place all four cod filets so that there is about an inch between them. Drizzle with more olive oil, salt and pepper and a pad (or about 1/4 T) of butter on each filet and sprinkle on the fresh thyme. Cook for about 12-15 minutes on 375 degrees F or until you see the tops become opaque. Remove and cover with foil. They will continue to cook. DO NOT OVERCOOK!
  • In a small saucepan, melt the rest of the butter until bubbling. Add salt and pepper and the onions and cook until transparent. Add the stock and reduce by half. Then add the mustard, and the cream, and mix well, cooking down a bit more and checking to see how much salt to add. Even a splash of vinegar is a good idea.
  • To plate, arrange the beets first. Add a serving of the lentils. Then nestle a filet of the cod. Add the mustard cream sauce, some fresh basil julienned, and top with the drained pickled leeks!

Fresh Blackberry Muffins

Makes 12 muffins


3 C Bisquick
2/3 C cream
2/3 C less 2 T 2% milk
4 T packed light brown sugar
¼ C white sugar
1 t vanilla
Dash of kosher salt
1 t cinnamon
1 heaping C fresh blackberries, rough chopped
1 T butter to grease muffin tin


  • Chop the blackberries and set aside. In a large mixing bowl add the Bisquick, salt, cinnamon, and sugars. Make a well in the center where you will add the cream, milk, and vanilla. Mix all those ingredients with a spoon until combined. Stir to make sure it is all dissolved like you’re making pancakes, but don’t overmix. Then fold in the blackberries
  • Drop into small muffin pan, should fill all 12. Bake at 350 degrees F for 12-15 minutes or until brown on the edges. Plus, you can lightly press on the top with your finger. If you feel any mushiness, leave in for another minute or so. Let cool, remove and serve with honey butter!

Personal Greek Meat Loaves with Sauteed Root Vegetables

Serves 10 to 12


2 lbs 85% lean ground beef
1 lb ground lamb
½ large white onion chopped finely
2 eggs beaten
1/3 C chopped
fresh mint
24 white pearl onions
½ C golden raisins
½ T coriander powder
1 t Moroccan seasoning (found in stores)
¼ C plain bread crumbs
2-3 T 2% milk
Salt and pepper
2 T of a fruity balsamic vinegar like fig


  • In a large bowl, blend by hand all ingredients except pearl onions. Set aside.
  • Boil a large pot of water. Add pearl onions without peeling. Let boil for 3 minutes. Remove and shock in ice water.Then by hand, squeeze each onion to pull off the skin. This method feels a lot like when you’re squeezing out a cooked garlic clove from the head after roasting. Some pop out clean, others require a little coaxing, but the skins will come off. Set aside.
  • Using two regular sized muffin tins, carefully divide the mixture evenly among the 24 openings,filling to the top of the opening.You can lightly grease if needed but there’s plenty of fat already.Top each with a pearl onion, and drizzle the onion with the balsamic.Cook in a 375 degree F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and serve with a sprinkling of fresh mint.
  • Sauteed Root Vegetables: Slice 5 carrots and 4 C fingerling potatoes into large pieces, saute in a large saucepan with olive oil and salt and pepper. Before almost done, add about 1 C of orange juice and simmer for another 10 minutes until tender and juice is gone. Serve.

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