Category: Carolina Country

Smoky Okra Fries with Cinnamon Honey Drizzle

fresh okra roasted and dusted with smoked paprika, crunchy salt and drizzled with hot cinnamon honey

Fries and a burger, ho hum. Flip a switch on those boring fries by serving okra! Easy to make and best when hot, these smoky okra fries are still tasty at room temperature. Add the sweet and savory honey drizzle over these crispy fries—woo hoo!

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Everything Pork Smash Burgers with Toasty Hoop Cheese

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2015

Smashburgers!  or Smash Burgers?  No matter which you way you prefer, they’re everywhere these days… but do you know what that actually means?  

My definition is a good old ground meat burger,  smashed somehow or other, and cooked so that you get a nice, uneven edge from “smashing” that has little nooks and crannies with crunchy little bits and pieces and a crusty bite to them.
The kind we love from our favorite hole-in-the-wall grills and diners!

Most smashburgers are made with ground beef.  But y’all know I don’t do “most.” That’s why I made these with good old NC ground pork!  If you can’t source from a local farmer, you can find ground pork in any grocery store… it’s what I use in my egg rolls too!  

When I was growing up, this is how mama made hamburgers, because she near’bout burnt everything she cooked… and our burgers were no exception. They were crunchy alright!  But actually real good.  Even if they were shriveled up little things… the steamed buns daddy insisted on (and me too to this day) made them tolerable while lost inside the bun.  They just didn’t have a “name” way back then. But now I know, she was cooking smashburgers!

For me, there are 5 things that make up a really great smashburger. The first three… the key to getting that crunch is the right fat ratio (at least 80/20 fat), making them not very big (3-4 ounces) so you can smash big and thin, and a very hot cooking surface… like a preheated cast iron skillet or griddle. 

These days, lots of folks have Blackstone griddles… found at varying price points here and there (self included), and I love that thing!  It’s perfect for making smashburgers and with this recipe, making the “toasty cheese” alongside them! You can cook these in a hot skillet indoors, but because of the high heat and grease, I highly recommend cooking your smashers outside.  If you don’t have a griddle, a cast iron skillet works great!

Number four… as for the cheese, you can use any kind of melty cheese, but I’m a big fan of hoop cheese! (Read about hoop cheese here at North Carolina’s Ashe County Cheese.)

I grew up with it. And it’s often seen… little slices wrapped in “cellophane” with saltine crackers by the register at country stores. Just right to grab for breakfast on the way to work, or a mid-morn or afternoon snack when taking a break from work on the farm.  Enough to “tide you over” till lunch or suppertime.

Mama, not being a cook, would sometimes melt hoop cheese in her cast iron skillet and throw some canned biscuits in the oven. Supper would be biscuits and cheese… spoonsful of the ooey gooey melted cheese over top of those split biscuits.  I can see that good stuff now… with that little golden orange ring of grease around the edge that cooked out of that melted cheese.

Last but certainly worth special attention… really good rolls are the crowning glory for your burgs.  You’ll want something that’s going to hold that luscious burger without it falling to pieces while you savor every crunchy bite!  My favorite are potato rolls, that only get better with the brushed-on butter and light grilling inside out, so you get a little soft with a little crisp too. 

As for toppings, offer up anything that suits your fancy. I like to keep those simple on my smashburgers, so not one bit of the crunchy goodness is lost. 

Memorial day is almost here… and a perfect time to fix a bunch of smashburgers and have a grand ole time with those you love! A Smash Bash… to celebrate and remember those who have served our nation to protect the land of the free… home of the brave!  

Fix some of my Smoky Okra Fries to enjoy alongside and Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfaits for dessert. 

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Get your burg on y’all!

Everything Pork Smash Burgers with Toasty Hoop Cheese

When the burger craving comes upon us, nothing else will do. Smashburgers: those delectable little patties with a bit of crunch — the kind we seek out at our favorite hole-in-the-wall burger joints. I used NC ground pork for these, topped with hoop cheese.

Course: Fun Food!, Main Course, Supper
Cuisine: American, Gluten Free, Grilling, Keto Friendly, Kid-Friendly, Southern, Summer Food, Tailgating
Keyword: blackstone griddle, burger, cast iron cooking, hoop cheese, smash burger, smashburger
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 2 pounds ground pork (at least 80/20 fat)
  • 2 tablespoons ‘everything bagel’ seasoning
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • salt (optional-due to saltiness in cheese)
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil in bowl
  • Buns (potato or brioche)
  • 1 stick melted butter
  • 1 pound wedge hoop cheese
Instructions
  1. Place griddle or large cast iron skillet on grate. Preheat grill (or griddle) to highest heat.

  2. Combine pork and seasonings and mix as little as possible. (The more you handle, the tougher the meat will be.)

  3. Divide into 12 balls. Roll in bowl of oil and place onto hot griddle or skillet. Do not move for at least 1 minute. Flip, then using the bottom of a mason jar, “smash” the burger to make it thin. Cook about 2 minutes, turn and cook the other side about the same to get a good sear. Stack in pan to the side to keep warm.

  4. For the buns, brush the insides with melted butter. Grill the buttered sides while the burgers cook. Place burgers onto “ungrilled” outsides of buns (buttered side out).

  5. Put mounds of hoop cheese into hot skillet or on griddle. As it melts, scoop a portion with spatula onto each burger and eat as is or add toppings.

Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfaits with toasted pecans and buttercream whip

Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfaits With toasted pecans and buttercream whip

Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfaits
With toasted pecans and buttercream whip

Published in Carolina Country Magazine May 2021

Such a southern thing, the hummingbird cake. Although its history is shrouded in mystery and conflicting tales of its origins, its key ingredients have remained the same over the years. And it’s just damn good. When doing my research, I found just about every kind of recreation and twist on the cake but no parfaits!  And since everybody doesn’t have the time nor inclination to make a hummingbird cake from scratch, you’re welcome!  For my tasty rendition with all the flavors of a hummingbird cake, without all the fuss…  cinnamon. bananas. pineapple. crunchy toasted pecans. cream cheese. 

What more could you ask for?  Time? The time it would take to mix and make and bake? Well you just slash that time, make yourself a grocery list and fix a bunch of these Hummingbird Cake Parfaits to freeze and grab whenever you take a notion! 

Enjoy on the patio with these Everything Pork Smash Burgers with toasty hoop cheese and a side of Smoky Okra Fries

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The most popular Southern Living cake ever… the Hummingbird Cake

Hummingbird Ice Cream Parfait with toasted pecans and buttercream whip

Such a southern thing, the hummingbird cake. Although its history is shrouded in mystery and questions of its origin, its key ingredients have remained the same over the years. Try my ice cream-layered twist on this fruity cake.

Course: Brunch, Dessert, Fun Food!, Sweet Treats
Cuisine: American, Kid-Friendly, No Cook, Southern Desserts, Summer Food
Keyword: hummingbird cake, ice cream, ice cream sundae, parfait, summer treats
Author: Wendy L. Perry
Ingredients
  • 1/2 gallon butter pecan ice cream, softened
  • 1 8 ounce can crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 bananas, peeled and cubed
  • 2 teaspoons allspice or apple pie spice
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 pint whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons  butter
  • 1 cup roughly chopped pecans
  • salt
  • 3-4 cups cinnamon graham cereal, crush half
  • cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Fold pineapple, bananas and spice into softened ice cream. Place back in freezer for several hours or overnight to firm.

  2. For buttercream whipped topping, use a mixer to combine cream cheese, whipping cream and butter until peaks are almost stiff. Blend in vanilla and sugar.

  3. For the pecans, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add pecans and toast them, stirring frequently, about 7 minutes. Pour onto parchment paper to cool and sprinkle with salt.

  4. To assemble the parfaits, put some of the cereal in the bottom of each glass. Add a scoop of ice cream and repeat layers. Top with whipped cream, dust with cinnamon and garnish with the buttery, toasty pecans.

 

Bacon Cheeseburger Ice Brittle for pups

Bacon Cheeseburger Doggie Ice Brittle

These homemade dog treats are a cool treat on hot summer days for your fur baby pooches! Make this easy Bacon Cheeseburger Ice Brittle for yours to have on hand for a frosty treat from the freezer.

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Kitty Shrimp & “Grits” Bites

Kitty Shrimp & "Grits" Bites

These crunchy seafood treats will make your cats happy. Grits aren’t great for them, but when corn is ground into meal, it’s safe for making these little shrimp nuggets. You can sub canned tuna for the shrimp if preferred. My dog loves these, too!

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Doggone Good Chicken Salad & Deviled Eggs ~ treats for your furbabies

Doggone Good Chicken Salad and Deviled Eggs

Well of course any Southern picnic needs chicken salad — and deviled eggs! Including those for your furbabies.

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Hot n’Honey Dill Pickled Mustard Seeds

Hot n'Honey Pickled Mustard Seeds

This one might sound a bit odd, but do give them a try. They add a fun little pickled crunch to deviled eggs, sandwiches, meats, salads and dips.

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Roasted Veggies & Shrimp Skewers

Buttermilk Citrus Green Goddess Dressing

High temperatures paired with abundant vegetables make for healthy nibbles or a light meal. Roasting brings out the natural sugars in your vegetables that caramelize for a sweet zing. Exact measurements are not needed — make as much as you need for your crew. Dollop with Buttermilk Green Goddess Dressing and you’ll never look at vegetables the same way again.

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Buttermilk Citrus Green Goddess Dressing (and roasted vegetables & shrimp skewers)

Buttermilk Citrus Green Goddess Dressing

Here’s an old dressing with a bright twist thanks to some citrus alternatives to the standard lemon. Super simple to throw together, it’s free of preservatives and packed with vibrant flavor. Use as a sandwich spread, veggie dip, topping for meat and fish or a pasta sauce  — the possibilities are endless!

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Strawberry Vanilla Simple Syrup

Strawberry Vanilla Simple Syrup

Simple syrups are just that — simple to make. But you can use them in so many ways. Visit a local farm, pick some fresh strawberries and prep this syrup. We also subbed local honey for part of the sugar to make our syrup sing with flavor!

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Crispy Churro Cake Bites with chocolate hazelnut dip

Crispy Churro Cake Bites with chocolate hazelnut dip

Look no further for a fun, finger food dessert to put smiles on faces! Keep cake pieces on hand in a freezer bag to fry in a flash for when you need “just a bite of something sweet.”

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Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette with pickle juice

Sweet ’n’ Spicy Chili Vinaigrette With pickle juice

Drizzle this sweet n’hot chili vinaigrette over a simple salad along with my Carnitas Enchiladas Suiza, or put it to work in a shredded cabbage slaw. Need a quick marinade for chicken or shrimp? This is your go-to! Keeps in the fridge for about a month.

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