Category: fun food

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. 

Before you go, I hope you subscribe while here.

And… I invite you to come on over to my social media homes and like those too!
Wendy’s Home Economics on FB
culinaryadventurstwendy @ IG

Aunt Dee Dee’s Online Store
Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitchen on FB
auntdeedeeskitchen @ IG

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

Till then, come on over and hang out on my social media
Wendy’s Home Economics on FB
culinaryadventuristwendy on IG

Aunt Dee Dee’s Kitche on FB
auntdeedeeskitchen on IG

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.

 

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.

keep reading

Dilled Reuben Deviled Eggs

Reuben Deviled Eggs

Reuben Deviled Eggs

I don’t know about you, but I don’t recall ever meeting a deviled egg I didn’t like.  I’m not particularly fond of the white part… and either eat just the part of that holding the deviled part… or just the deviled itself!  It’s a texture thing for me… egg whites remind me of jello, which I cannot and do not eat!  Although I do love a good farm fresh boiled egg with shakers of salt and pepper. Go figure.

This is a “throw cook’n” recipe.  One where I cannot give you exact measurements because I simply throw stuff in to make it taste good.

Being that it’s almost St. Patrick’s Day, and I did cook a corned beef this weekend in my crock pot, I enjoy it in a lot of ways… and have had this one in my head for a while.  I will also point you to a recipe I threw together long ago, with horrible pics before I had a clue about food styling or photography.  This is a really tasty Cream of Reuben Soup... another way to use that corned beef.

Another St. Patrick’s Day dish is my version of colcannon… “Southern Colcannon.”  It was actually published in Our State Magazine years ago when I was house chef there… it’s a realllll good side dish for not only corned beef, but just about anything!  What’s not to love about greens (my cabbards or cabbage) and good ole North Carolina Sweet Potatoes?

St. Patrick’s Day is also a pretty momentous day for me too… as it is my Quit Smoking Anniversary!  I think this marks year 15 for me… my motivation?  My new little nephew when he was born, who is now SIXTEEN!  He was born in September, and I didn’t want him growing up smelling me and my house… nor seeing me smoking so he would think that was OK!
If you have tried to quit or want to… if I can quit after 26 years… You Can TOO!
It’s not easy. It’s HARD. But find your motivator and do it… read my story above… and just do it!

Till next time… (recipe below)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reuben Deviled Eggs

Sliced boiled eggs in half and put yolks in bowl.
Add a bit of thousand island dressing (or mayo) and minced dill pickles.
Add some Bavarian Sauerkraut (seasoned and has caraway seeds!)
Stir in a little bit of coarse ground mustard… salt and pepper.
Mix together and fill egg whites.
Scatter with some fresh chopped dill.

EAT!

Church Hot Dog Chili

Church Hot Dog Chili

It’s hard to beat a good ole hot dog. And the best are topped with simple homemade chili, fittin for dogs and burgers. All the way please… chili, mustard and chopped onions! And a dollop of slaw doesn’t hurt either.

keep reading

Look y’all… I baked!

Mimi's Mountain Mix Pizza at Wendy's Home Economics!

Have fun making pizza at home with Mimi’s Mountain Mixes! Teach a child to cook… this is a great fun way to do that.

keep reading

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.”

keep reading

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus (plus 10!)

Spirited Sweet Potato Hummus

Looking for something new to nibble on? During your super bowl gathering? Or couch pajama movie binge? Throw together some of this roasted sweet potato goodness… yummy any old time… and great way to use some of our North Carolina Sweet Potatoes!!

keep reading

Woolworth’s Café Cheesecake With Gingersnap Crust

Woolworth's Café Cheesecake with Gingersnap Crust

Take a nostalgic trip back with this vintage Woolworth’s Cafe Cheesecake. Staying true to the original recipe… only a couple of tweaks! Like the gingersnap crust… and dollop of egg nog whipped cream!

keep reading

No fair? No fair! … so cook yourself some turkey legs at home!

Smokey Spiced Grilled Turkey Legs

Smokey Spiced Grilled Turkey Legs

Published in Carolina Country Magazine November 2017

Well 2020 just keeps giving us disappointment on top of disappointment.  Some of us look real forward to our NC State Fair each year, each for our own reasons.  I will miss going there several mornings to judge the daily cooking contests… one of my favorite fall culinary adventures.  Some go for their favorite foods scattered about the fairgrounds.
Grease! Salt! Sugar! Finger lick’n…
What’s not to love?

You can’t miss folks walking around gnawing on big ole turkey legs!  This recipe was part of a few I created several years ago for Carolina Country Magazine for a little twist on Thanksgiving… and when I was thinking about fair foods to share, realized I never put this here on my blog.  

We never know what sort of weather we will have here around fair time… or Thanksgiving… it might be brrrrr! cold… or we may be out in shorts and flip flops firing up our grill.  Either way, these turkey legs are tasty… and something fun to cook this year during fair week to pretend you’re there!  Or to give your Thanksgiving a twist too.

So grab yourself some legs and crank up the grill!  Enjoy some of my tasty turkey legs… and come on over to my facebook playground and share your pics and what you think about ’em!

Smokey Spiced Grilled Turkey Legs

No fair this year... no problem! Grill your own turkey legs at home... or fix some for Thanksgiving this year.

Course: Fun Food!, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Carb Free, Gluten Free, Grilling, Southern, Tailgating
Keyword: fair food, thanksgiving, turkey legs
Servings: 1 1 leg per person
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 5-6 medium size turkey legs
Marinade:
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 4 teaspoons salt
Baste:
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup butter
Instructions
  1. Combine all marinade ingredients. Place turkey legs into large container with lid. Pour marinade over legs, cover and shake to coat. Refrigerate (up to 2 days), shaking periodically to coat.

  2. To grill: Preheat grill to high heat. Oil grates and place legs onto grill. Sear on all sides several minutes, turning to get good grill marks. Reduce heat to low or move coals to sides (for indirect heat) and continue cooking, covered, for about 50–60 minutes. Turn every few minutes to prevent burning. 

  3. Melt butter in honey. Baste legs, turning often, the last few minutes of cooking. Remove legs when temperature reaches 165 degrees by thermometer.

  4. Place legs onto serving tray and pour remaining baste over legs.

Don’t throw away those watermelon rinds!

Carolina Gold Oil drizzled Salted Watermelon Rind

Stop… Don’t throw that watermelon rind away! Throw this together… Bogue Sound Watermelon Rind drizzled with Carolina Gold Oil! Great for nibblin, appetize’n… or on top of your tacos, hot dogs, salads and more.

keep reading

Deviled Crab Hushpuppy Waffle & Pickled Seafood Medley ~ The New Southern Seafood Platter in Our State Magazine

... a southern seafood platter twist!

We love a seafood platter in the summertime — especially one that features fresh, local fish. Here, we imagined what a modern twist on this classic dish might look like with these Deviled Crab Hushpuppy Waffles and Pickled Seafood Medley!

keep reading