Category: low carb

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.

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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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!

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Blanching tender cabbage is a great way to preserve nutrients and get vivid color! And don’t you love having a farm fresh side dish ready in 10 minutes?

Featured in Carolina Country Magazine November 2020

I.Love.Cabbage.

I cannot think of one way I do not love me some cabbage!  It’s so versatile and it such a great side dish for most anything.  It’s quick to prepare… and budget friendly too.  

With cabbage, usually “less is more.” It brings so much of its own flavor to the table you really don’t need to do much to it.  Like this recipe.  It’s as simple as blanching till tender, but still has a little “bite” to it.  A bit of crushed red pepper and caraway seed… and of course some butter, and you’ve got yourself a mighty fittin side.  It’s just right to round out your meal with my Bacon Stuffed Pork Loin with garlicky apple cider gravy and Rustic Herbed Dressing with apples and cheddar.  This meal just hollers “FALL!” and would be nice for something different featuring pork on your Thanksgiving table this year.

Put all these goodies on your grocery list so you’ll have on hand to cook up this comforting fall feast soon. Then come on over to my facebook community and share your comments!

 

Buttered Wilted Cabbage with Pepper & Caraway Seed

Blanching tender cabbage is a great way to preserve nutrients and get vivid color!  And don’t you love having a farm fresh side dish ready in 10 minutes? 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Southern
Keyword: cabbage, side dish
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 8 cup chicken broth
  • 1 large head savoy cabbage
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seeds
  • crushed black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons butter
Instructions
  1. While bringing broth to a boil in large pot, cut cabbage into wedges and discard core. Tear by hand into 1”-2” pieces.  Add to boiling water. Stir and blanch for 1 ½to 2 minutes; drain and reserve broth for soup.

  2. Put cabbage back into hot pot. Toss with seasonings and butter to melt.  Taste and add salt as needed. Serve warm. 

Recipe Notes

Note: I save the core and simmer in the discarded broth for a delicious soup stock.
Don’t toss all that flavor! When cooking, save parts of vegetables for making the best soup base, sauces and gravy. Toss scraps into a freezer bag and add to it until you have accumulated a goodly amount and have time to make. Goodies to save are vegetable broth (like drained from this cabbage) along with leaves and core, onion and garlic peels, celery ends, corn cobs, carrot ends and peel, potato scraps, and fresh herb stems. Freeze in ice trays or small containers for adding flavor to all sorts of dishes!

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.

Spicy Citrus Seafood Cocktail With NC wild-caught shrimp

Spicy Citrus NC Seafood Cocktail

Spicy Citrus NC Seafood Cocktail

Published in Carolina Country Magazine July 2020

Who has time or desire to do much cooking during the lazy hazy hot days of North Carolina summer?  Not me! Y’all, this seafood cocktail is light… so full of flavor with just a hint of fresh citrus, and only a little bit of fuss when it comes to cook’n. Loaded with a bounty of fresh seafood from our coast, you can enjoy this for a late morning brunch… for lunch… or right out of a jar in your porch swing watching the sun set!  

This is one of those recipes where specifics and exactness isn’t important — you know, throw cook’n!  Use all of one seafood or whatever combo you like. Go with your favorite vegetables and what’s in season.  Add veggies you like to my recipe… as The Frugal Gourmet Chef Jeff Smith would say…

“Omit and substitute! That’s how recipes should be written. Please don’t ever get so hung up on published recipes that you forget that you can omit and substitute.”

And in keeping with my North Carolina company ingredients, I chose North Carolina’s Bruce Julian’s Blood Mary Mix to finish out my recipe!  Just round up what you need and throw together some of my seafood cocktail… soon!  You’ll be so glad you did… and so will your company.

And while you’re at it, be sure to make some of my Savory Bay Crackers with browned butter too.  Followed up with a little dish of my No-Churn Cantaloupe & Coconut Ice Cream.

Come on over, and hang out with us in my fun facebook community too, where you will find this and lots of other goodies.

Spicy Citrus North Carolina Seafood Cocktail

Light and spicy... with just the right hint of fresh citrus, the seafood cocktail features all sorts of North Carolina goodness!

Course: Appetizer, Brunch, Fun Food!, Main Course, Snack, Supper
Cuisine: American, Farmers Market, Garden Goodies, Gluten Free, Mexican, North Carolina Goodies, Seafood, Southern, Summer Food, Tailgating
Keyword: bloody mary mix, bruce julian, crab, got to be nc, grilled salad, romaine, southwestern, north carolina shrimp, lobster, mexican seafood cocktail, north carolina seafood, seafood cocktail, spicy
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
Spicy Sauce
  • 2 quarts favorite Bloody Mary mix* or V8
  • 1 bunch radishes, roughly chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1-2 tablespoons horseradish
  • 4 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • zest of 1 lemon, lime, orange and juice of ½ each, Cut the remaining halves into wedges for guests to squeeze into their cocktails
  • cracked black pepper
Seafood Mixture
  • 2 pounds wild-caught North Carolina shrimp, peeled, cooked and cooled
  • 1 pound bay scallops
  • 6 small lobster tails
  • 2 firm avocados, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Garnishes
  • 1/2 pound lump crab meat
  • cilantro
Instructions
  1. Combine and chill the spicy sauce ingredients.

  2. A few minutes before serving, add about four pounds of cooked shellfish of your choice (or use our suggestions above) and gently stir in the avocados and cilantro.

  3. Sprinkle with crabmeat and more cilantro.

Recipe Notes

*I used NC’s Bruce Julian Bloody Mary Mix.

 

Easter Brunch Asparagus Casserole

Easter Asparagus Brunch Casserole

This light and velvety asparagus casserole will be a favorite with the cheese lovers in your crowd for Easter brunch, or anytime. Other vegetables can be substituted or added, and have fun trying other cheeses too. You can even add in diced ham or bacon. Use this recipe as a base and spiff up to make it your own.

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Anytime is Deviled Egg time!

While recipe developer and food stylist at Our State Magazine, I was asked to give a classic deviled egg a North Carolina twist. These recipes inspired by our culture are fun to make and good to eat.

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Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Chicken Breakfast Sausage

Pull out your cast iron skillet for this one to get a nice little “crunch” on the patties. Making sausage to suit your own taste is really easy to do, and making a big batch at the time is too since you can freeze and take out a few patties as needed. You can make this recipe with ground pork, but we love the moistness from using ground chicken. And if you like maple sausage, make some with a hint of syrup drizzled in also. This makes a great “breakfast for supper!”

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State Fair Stoup

State Fair Stoup

State Fair Stoup

Published in Carolina Country Magazine  October 2019

Thank you Jesus… I can feel fall in the air!  My favorite time of year… when we can stop sweating and turn to cook’n.  Tailgate pot lucks… comfort foods… and goodies like chowders, soups and stews.  

We work months ahead for the magazine (just covered an event Saturday for next September issue!), and when I was thinking about October in April and May, while eating my first tomato sandwiches, I was trying to put my head into sweater season.  Ahhhh…. state fair time!  

I do love state fair time… and all that comes with it. I especially enjoy all the days I get to judge the daily cooking contests with the NC Department of Agriculture.  For years, more than I can remember now, I get all giddy when my packet of stuff arrives with my judging dates, tickets, parking pass and all.  Each year, I block off fair days on my calendar for the next and do my best not to let anything interfere with those culinary adventurous days.  This year, I will be judging vegetables, apples, pork and beef days.  It’s really fun to see what entries arrive… and honestly, some are rather scary!  I want to coach some of the entrants… to fine tune their dish just a bit to what we, as judges, usually all come to a consensus on would make their dish a big winner!  My biggest advice (and usually a comment from all around the table)… “where’s the SALT!?”  For years, folks got scared of salt… and went from one extreme to another. 

My best advice… make your dish and get a variety of honest folks to taste it.  Make sure they tell you the good, bad and ugly of it and fine tune it from there. There is great prize money on the contests… so if not this year, do start looking at the NC State Fair site (or your own state) mid-summer for the daily categories. Read all the specifics of the one(s) you want to enter (one little omission can disqualify your awesome recipe) and get to cook’n and tweaking!  And maybe next year, you will take home a ribbon and money.  To see all my suggestions… take a look here at this piece I wrote for Carolina Country Magazine a couple of years ago. 

Till then, get out your pot and cook up some of this stoup!  You can have the delicious aromas and tastes of the fair right now in your own kitchen.  When you do, hop over to my facebook community and tell us all about it.   

State Fair Stoup

You know you’ve arrived at the NC State Fair when you’re greeted on the midway with the smell of sausages, peppers and onions. This stoup is my version of these fair favorites, but in a bowl to enjoy on chilly days at home … along with toasted hoagies and cheese butter.

Course: Fun Food!, Soup, Stew, Stoup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: stoup, stew, soup, state fair
Author: Wendy Perry
Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons cooking oil, divided
  • 2 each red, green, yellow bell peppers
  • 2 large onions,
  • 2 stalks celery
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 pound Italian Sausage
  • 1 14 ounce pkg. kielbasa
  • 1 cup beef broth
  • 1 15 ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon minced dehydrated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 cups unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 16 ounce jar pepperoncini, drained
  • 1 12 ounce jar sliced sweet ‘n’ hot pickled peppers (We used Mt. Olive)
  • 1 6 pack hoagie rolls, toasted and sliced in wedges

Cheese Butter
  • 1 pound butter, softened
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tablespoon each mustard and mayonnaise
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and crockpot to low.

  2. Cut peppers, onions and celery into 1-inch pieces. Toss with 4 tablespoons of oil, salt and pepper; spread out on large baking pan. Roast 30-40 minutes until lightly charred, tossing after 15 minutes.

  3. As peppers roast, heat 2 tablespoons of oil in large skillet. Over medium heat, cook sausages, turning to brown on all sides. Remove to bowl and cut into bite-sized pieces.

  4. Add broth, tomatoes, seasoning, garlic and sugar to drippings and bring to a slow simmer.

  5. Put vegetables into crockpot. Add sausages, broth mixture, applesauce and pepperoncini. Stir to mix. Cover and cook 2–3 hours in crock pot. Garnish with pickled peppers.

  6. For the cheese butter, whip ingredients together until creamy. Serve on toasted hoagie buns.

Everything’s HOT up ‘n here Bagels! Bye Bye Gluten & Carbs

Everything’s HOT up ‘n here Bagels! Gluten & Carb FREE

Cheesy gluten and carb free bagels… with a kick of cayenne and a dusting of crispy everything bagel dust!

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