Tag Archives: New Year’s Eve

Welcome 2015: New Year’s Beach

Happy New Year, people.

It’s 2015 and apparently the millennium was 15 years ago. So, there’s that. Fortunately, the Willennium is still going strong and will never, ever end.)

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I was lucky enough to ring in New Year at the beach in North Carolina with friends old and new. It was my second trip to Southport/Oak Island with Anna and Kevin and we BALLED SO HARD.*

*As you all know, ‘balled so hard’ means cooking, eating at restaurants, baking, drinking a few beers, watching movies and antiquing. Wait, what do other people mean when they ball so hard?

Anna is one of my favorite people to cook and eat with because she’s up for anything. (One of the many reasons I love her!) We threw together a delicious feast for New Year’s Eve dinner where everything was so perfect because we’re really amazing cooks and we’re great at everything forever.

If my sarcasm wasn’t coming through there, well, it should’ve been.

We DID throw together a delicious feast for New Year’s Eve. Kevin and his brother-in-law, Marty, grilled some pork tenderloins and shrimp. Anna and I concentrated on making some amazing copycat Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuits. I wasn’t going to go to Red Lobster anytime soon, and now, I’ll never need to go again!

Seriously though, the last time I was at a Red Lobster was after the softball Final Four my sophomore year of high school. We’d just lost in the semifinals and we were in the middle of nowhere Florida and the only place to eat was Red Lobster. My dad ordered a baked potato and there was a cockroach BAKED INTO HIS POTATO. He alerted the server, who alerted the manager, who promptly came over and gave my dad some Red Lobster Bucks as an apology. My dad left the Red Lobster Bucks as a tip because THEY DID NOT COMP HIS MEAL. Absurd.

But their biscuits are bomb as hell.

In addition to our biscuits, Anna made some lovely bacon brussels sprouts. And she and I collaborated on a really terrible cake. We had the idea to do a tres leches cakes (that’s three milks, y’all). We found a relatively unfussy recipe from FoodNetwork.com. I won’t go into details, but basically, it overcooked on the outside and didn’t bake AT ALL in the middle. We followed instructions! It was gross.

Redemption came two days later when we made an improvised Cranberry Cake out of ingredients we had in the pantry. We made them as cupcakes, which made us feel like we had the God given right to eat as many of them as possible.

As I mentioned, we BALLED SO HARD by eating at some of the local restaurants. WHAT?!!? WE ARE SO GD RICH WE ARE BASICALLY OPRAH!!!!

The food at the beach is really fun. Obviously a generalization, but it is unpretentious and focused on simple food with big flavor. These three places are terrific and should not be missed on a trip to Southport/Oak Island.

  • Terry’s Barbecue: This is a relatively new barbecue joint and it is the real deal. The chef/owner, Terry, is classically trained and spent years in big city catering. His retirement plan was to open up this tiny barbecue joint and do what he loved. We took it to go, since there isn’t a dining room yet (next spring, they say!) The pulled pork is excellent, served with an North Carolina vinegar sauce as well as a thick, sweet sauce, but the ribs? The ribs are the star of the show. They were smoky and falling off the bone. Go to Terry’s. Don’t tell him I sent you because he does not know who I am.

    Dat barbecue, tho.

  • Loco Jo’s Grill: A trip to the beach isn’t complete until you’ve had Loco Jo’s. It doesn’t make sense to have fish tacos on a menu with shrimp egg rolls, but it’s delicious and somehow all works together. I would’ve taken pictures of my food, but I was too busy eating it. Sue me.
  • Fat Andy’s: This is a wonderful example of food executed perfectly in a no-frills environment. It’s a cash-only place on the side of the road with picnic tables outside. Ain’t nobody got time for indoor seating. This burger was absolutely delicious. Every component was super fresh, served alongside the crispiest fries I’ve ever eaten. Fulton appreciated the fries as much as we did.

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At any rate, my first trip back to North Carolina was a great one. It was wonderful to spend time with Anna and Kevin and meet Anna’s sister, Susan, and her husband, Marty. I was also really lucky that my other friend Anna happened to be in town as well. I got to spend one morning hanging out with the Annas drinking bloody Marys and comparing Serial theories. Even more random, I ran into one of my theatre professors at a coffee shop.

2014 was a year of a lot of change for me. It’s been exciting and hard and scary and wonderful and sad, sometimes all at the same time. But it seems that fate was reminding me at the end of the year that even though I’ve physically left my friends, my friends haven’t left me. Sappy though that may sound.

Now, back to my regularly scheduled balling: 2015 style.

Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits from Damn Delicious

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
For the topping:
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, garlic powder, salt and cayenne pepper, if using.In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together buttermilk and butter. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Gently fold in cheese.

Using a 1/4-cup measuring cup, scoop the batter evenly onto the prepared baking sheet. Place into oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. For the topping, whisk together butter, parsley and garlic powder in a small bowl. Working one at a time, brush the tops of the biscuits with the butter mixture.

Serve immediately. Leave no biscuit behind.

Better than the original because you don't have to go into a Red Lobster to eat them!

Better than the original because you don’t have to go into a Red Lobster to eat them!

Cranberry Cake from The Kitchn

Makes one 10-inch springform cake. Alternately: Four 4-cup loaves or 24 to 30 cupcakes.
Ingredients:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, cubed and softened at room temperature for 1 hour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract, optional
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups cranberries (12-ounce bag)

Optional pecan topping | This topping is optional, but should not be dismissed.

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup pecans, unroasted

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 10-inch springform pan (or a collection of smaller pans. This make 10 to 12 cups of batter.)

Use a stand mixer or hand beaters to beat the eggs and sugar until very smooth and increased in volume. If using a stand mixer, beat on medium speed for 4 to 7 minutes, using the whip attachment. If using hand beaters, beat on high speed for 6 to 8 minutes. The egg and sugar mixture will double in volume and turn very pale yellow, leaving ribbons on top of the batter when you lift the beaters.

Beat in the butter, vanilla, and almond extract, if using. Beat for 2 minutes or until the butter is smoothly incorporated.

Use a spatula to fold in the flour, salt, and cranberries. The batter will be quite thick. Spread gently into the prepared pan.

To prepare the optional pecan topping, heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. Add the sugar and stir. Add the pecans and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring, until the butter and sugar mixture is shiny and smooth and the nuts are well-coated with the butter and sugar. Spread over the cake batter.

Bake 60 to 80 minutes for the springform. For smaller pans, start checking after 30 minutes, but expect small loaves to take at least 40 minutes. Tent the cake with foil in the last 30 minutes of baking to keep the top from browning (this is especially important for the pecan topping).

Cool for 20 minutes then run a knife around the inside edge of the pan and remove the cake. Cool for an hour before serving.

The cake keeps and freezes well. To store, wrap the fully cooled cake tightly in plastic wrap and leave in a dry, cool place for up to 1 week.

To freeze, wrap the fully cooled cake in plastic wrap and then foil. Freeze for up to 2 months. Thaw overnight at room temperature, still wrapped.

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Split Pea Soup: The Creamiest, Hammiest, Splitiest, Pea-iest Soup Ever

And now, a dad joke.

What’d you have for breakfast?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for lunch?

Pea soup.

What’d you have for dinner?

Pea soup.

What’d you do all night?

Pee soup.

Get it? Cause…pea….and pee….it’s a homonym.

It’s literally a dad joke because my dad told it to me when I was like 10 or something. And I’ve cherished it all these years. I don’t know what that says about me/us.

After my New Year’s Easy Eve ham, I had a leftover hambone and a lot of leftover ham. So, the natural course of action was to make a split pea soup. HASHTAG SOUPCLUB

Hambone Burnett.

Hambone Burnett.

I have to say, this is one of my favorite soups. It’s thick and creamy, but without the addition of any dairy for the anti-lactites. It’s full of vegetables and has an underlying hamminess. And while that sounds ridiculous to type, it actually is true. The hambone flavors the background of the soup with the broth and the water, and then including actual ham reinforces that flavor and is just plain delicious. Don’t skip the lemon juice at the end; it really brightens the soup up.

I can’t tell you that this soup will help your comedy at all.

After all, it is a bit of a ham.

You knew it was coming.

Oh, don’t look so surprised. We all knew I was going to wrap up with a bad joke/ham joke. #selfaware

Split Pea Soup with Ham from MarthaStewart.com

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 chopped medium onion
  • 4 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) green split peas, picked over and rinsed
  • Ham bone plus 2 cups reserved ham from the recipe Glazed Ham with Apricot-Mustard Sauce, cut into 1/2-inch cubes | I didn’t make this recipe, but I’m sure it’s delicious.
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

In a Dutch oven or 5-quart heavy pot with a lid, heat oil over medium. Add onion, carrots, celery, and thyme; season with salt and pepper. Cook until vegetables begin to soften, 5 to 8 minutes.

Add broth, split peas, ham bone, and 5 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and partially cover; simmer until peas are soft, 30 to 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, make croutons: In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add bread and cook, tossing occasionally, until browned and crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Pay attention here, these mo-fos will burn. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Remove and discard bone from soup. Working in batches, puree only 1/2 the soup in a blender (don’t overfill); return to pot. Add ham cubes, and simmer until heated through. If necessary, thin with water. Add salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste. Serve topped with croutons.

Ahhh.

Ahhh. Out of focus soup.

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Happy New Year: Predictably, rang it in with Ham

It’s 2014 now.

Time for me to write 2013 on my rent check until roughly August.

I’m fairly certain that you guys know me well enough by now that you know how I spent my New Year’s Eve: with a pork product. And I DID.

In reality, I spent the evening with my friends Alison, Cagney, and Jennie. We had a relaxed New Year’s Eve, on account of desired laziness and Alison and Cagney’s baby being under the weather. We made dinner, Cagney obsessively watched Miley Cyrus Takeover on Fuse, we got super drunk*, and I was home by 12:20.

*We did not get super drunk even a little bit. No hangover on New Year’s Day? Great start to 2014.

As for the dinner making, our motto was New Year’s Easy. COPYRIGHT ME 2013.

Our menu was as follows:

  • Oyster Cracker Snack
  • Honey-Bourbon Glazed Ham
  • Stuffing with Sausage
  • Roasted Butternut Squash
  • Chocolate Pudding with Espresso Salt

I was responsible for ham and squash. And as promised, they were so easy you could get super drunk and rage all night and still make them without cutting your fingers off.**

**We did not get super drunk at all, we flipped the channels between Jackass the movie, the aforementioned Miley Cyrus takeover, and the New Year’s Eve shows making fun of the people who stood in front of Times Square.

The ham is unbelievably simple, but has amazing flavor. Sticky sweet and deeply smoky because of the bourbon.

I’m hot, sticky sweet.

Why haven’t I put bourbon with ham before? It was a revelation. And all you have to do is baste the ham every half hour. And you have time to get, like, monumentally drunk.***

***We did not get monumentally drunk. I fell asleep for a minute on the couch at like 11:30 because I get sleepy. And this is a picture of Alison PROBABLY asleep in her dog’s bed.

New Year's Easssssy

New Year’s Easssssy

Make this ham. You don’t be disappointed. You’ll have plenty of leftovers. And even if you don’t get drunk, at least your ham did.

Honey Bourbon Glazed-Ham from PopSugar, originally adapted from Southern Living

In the original recipe, the ham is studded with whole cloves; however, speed up the recipe by adding the whole cloves into the bourbon sauce. The clove flavor will still infuse in the ham, plus upon service, your guests won’t have to pick out the buds as they eat the ham.

Ingredients

  • 1 fully cooked, bone-in ham (7-9 pounds)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup bourbon
  • 1/3 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • Several shakes of Tabasco sauce
  • 40 whole cloves

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove skin from ham and trim fat to 1/4-inch thickness. If ham is not precut, make shallow cuts in fat 1 inch apart in a diamond pattern. Place ham in a 13- x 9-inch pan.

In a medium bowl, stir together all other ingredients. Spoon entire mixture over ham. Bake at 325°F on lowest oven rack for 2 hours and 30 minutes, or until ham has an internal temperature of 145°F. Baste with pan juices every 30 minutes as ham cooks. Remove ham from oven and rest it for 15-30 minutes before carving. Strain sauce and serve it in a gravy dish alongside the ham (optional).

Serves 12-15 people.

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