Week 32: Corn

  • Tamale Pie with imitation cornbread
  • “Indian Corn” Bean salad

My sister-in-law is allergic to corn, so I ended up making a corn-free cornbread that was close in taste and spot on in texture. It was just missing that corn flavor.


The tamale pie was ground beef, onion, garlic, green pepper, cumin, cayenne, paprika, cock sauce, salt, pepper at the cooked bottom of a cast iron pan, then covered with the fake cornbread mix and baked.

I borrowed a corncob shaped cast iron muffin tin and shaped the left over batter to look like corncobs. I placed them on top of a tamale pie. The one problem was that this stuff glued itself to the cast iron, so the kernel texture was lost (and it took an eternity to get the pan clean).

For a side, it was “Indian Corn” bean salad. I dyed chickpeas yellow to look like corn, then added black, red kidney and northern white beans and olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, diced onion and cilantro.

Week 30: Burgers

Fiery PTPs

A friend and I have been cooking together for years. We always make delicious food, but occasionally we out-do ourselves. When we first started cooking together, he shared his methods of making a PTP (Prime Time Patty). Essentially it is just a meatloaf burger, but the deviations make it so much better.

Originally it was just diced onion, garlic, and green pepper mixed with Worcestershire, salt and pepper and ground beef mixed and formed into a patty. From there we have experimented with changes that either get adopted, or sworn to never repeat. Of the adoptions were diced jalapenos and cock sauce.

A little more than a year ago, our recipe for the burger went into two different directions. He started adding ketchup and using ultra lean beef, and I started adding soy sauce. The one thing that he did add that I quickly repeated was adding battered and fried onions and jalapenos to top the burger.

If I had the grilling resolve that he had, I would also grill them over charcoal, but the convenience of propane wins for me. The taste difference is definitely noticeable with all of the sugars of the mixture absorbing all of that delicious, smoky flavor.

Week 29: Inspired By Color

  • Chicken/Beef Enchiladas with green sauce
  • Green Rice
  • Avocado Buttermilk Soup

For the enchiladas, I stewed the chicken in broth, cumin, paprika, cock sauce, salt and pepper. The beef got the same seasonings but was pan fried instead.

The salsa verde recipe was pulled from here

When assembling the enchiladas, I used flour tortillas due to someone’s corn allergy. I wrapped some meat and Mexican cheese blend, and rolled each and placed them in a casserole dish, then poured on the salsa and topped with more cheese. After a stint in a 400F oven, they were bubbly and ready to eat.

Green rice recipe was altered by adding jalapeno.

With Dingus’s suggestion, the Avocado Buttermilk Soup was added to the menu sans the crab meat. Since a Murphy’s Mosier suggested the item, and brought me a lovely ceramic knife as a gift, of course the avocado pit chipped the brand new knife.

Week 25: Regional (something specific to your region)

The glory of living where I do is that I am from the hometown of the Hot Brown, and near Bourbon Country. This is the one of my most successful ventures. I imagine the several quarts of heavy cream and the bourbon made it possible.

Hot Browns – recipe with the deviation of using Wright’s Steakhouse Bacon which made it my favorite thing that I have ever cooked.

Bourbon Bread Pudding recipe (I added a lot more bourbon):

deSha’s Bourbon Bread Pudding

  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup brandy
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 4 cups heavy cream
  • 24 ounces white bread or rolls*
  • 6 eggs
  • 3 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons vanilla extract


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup bourbon

* 24 ounces is equivalent to two pans of frozen prepared rolls.

Combine raisins and brandy in small sauce pan. Heat to simmer, cover and set aside. Use a portion of the butter to coat a 2 inch deep baking dish. Melt the remaining butter and set aside to cool. Tear bread into chunks and alternate layers of bread with drizzles of the heavy cream (this is to maintain the shape and texture of the bread – do not mix or stir. Gingerly folding will work). Set aside for 5-10 minutes. Beat eggs and sugar until smooth. Add remaining ingredients to egg mixture (melted butter, raisins, brandy and vanilla). Toss egg mixture with breadvery gently to blend. Pour into pan and bake at 350 until browned and almost set, 45 minutes.Prepare sauce: Melt butter, stir in sugar and eggs and simmer to thicken. Take pan off of burner and add the bourbon and hold in warm place to serve. Do not cook the bourbon or it will lose it’s kick. Mix in after sauce is thickened and taken off of the heat. Serve warm topped with sauce. Can also be served cold.

Week 23: 20 Minutes or Less

  • Penne with Asparagus, Spinach, and Bacon

Fairly straight forward meal. Cooked bacon, used fat to saute the asparagus, then added spinach, garlic and onion. Tossed with penne.

Week 22: Sweet or Savory Tarts

  • Apple, Caramelized Onion, Gruyere Tart
  • Lobster Tart
  • Asparagus, Leek Tart
  • Zucchini, Tomato, Onion Tart
  • Sun Dried Tomato Tart

The grocery only had 2 sheets of puff pastry left, so I had to stretch it along with the pie dough I threw together and the puff pastry shells.

The apple, caramelized onion, Gruyere tart, was delicious. I caramelized the onions in a saute pan, sliced granny smith apples into thin slices. Then I arranged the apple slices, topped with onions, the shredded Gruyere.

For the lobster tart, I used the puff pastry shells, and added filled with a mixture of egg, imitation lobster chunks, salt, pepper, and onion, then baked. The batter was a little thin, so a lot leaked out of the bottoms of the shells, but it still worked.

For the next one, I sauteed asparagus and leeks and spread them over puff pastry with Fontina cheese, then baked

The following tart, I sliced the zucchini, diced the tomato and onion and spread it over a pie crust with olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I wrapped it up like a torte, and baked it.

For the rest of the shells, I filled with a sundried tomato, onion, oregano, garlic, basil and egg mixture. They didn’t leak a much out of the bottom.

Week 19: Five Ingredients or Fewer

  • Grilled Chicken Legs
  • Cous Cous
  • Onions
  • Grilled Asparagus
  • Garlic Herb Blend

Fairly self explanatory on this one. I don’t why I stuck with five ingredients overall, but it worked. It wasn’t a great meal, but any excuse to have friends over and challenge myself to figure out how to cook with such restraints is welcomed.

All I did was sweat the onions and par cook the asparagus, then added the cous cous. The grilled chicken was rubbed with the herb blend.

Week 18: Salad

Cucumber Salad  – I don’t remember

BBQ Chicken Salad – chicken baked in bourbon bbq sauce, served on toast points with dill slices

Mushroom and Spinach Salad – spinach and mushroom cooked with garlic and onion served on bacon with goat cheese

Deviled Tuna Salad – tuna with mayo, dijon, sweet relish, onion, paprika, and pepper served in hard-boiled eggs

Carrot and Blueberry Salad – shredded carrots with blueberries and honey served on filo squares

German Potato Salad – red potatoes with bacon, parsley, sugar, and cider vinegar served on sliced brats over rye toast points

Week 17: Something From Childhood

Half Whoppers
Chorizo Shells and Cheese
Steamed Broccoli

Growing up, when mom was strapped for cash for lunch, we would go to Burger King and the 4 of us children would each get half of a Whopper. The promise was that if we could finish it, we could get another half. It didn’t take long to figure out that once we left the drive through, there was no hope of a second half.

To recreate this trauma for my sister and me, I made seasoned beef patties and put them on sesame buns with pickles, onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard and ketchup. The best part was allowing each person to have a second half when they finished their first one.

Another institution of the Cronin household was boxed mac n’ cheese with either chunks of hot dogs or spam (depending on which was cheaper or already on hand). I classed it up a bit with making a 6 cheese macaroni with chucks of chorizo. It was a touch spicy, and very tasty. The indigestion was worth it.

Luckily with the advent of decent grocery selection and my parents not supporting four children, mom has finally stepped into the realm of fresh vegetables. Frozen vegetables were the staple growing up, as long as they were cooked into mush. I had to bring this classic to this dinner with the exception of it being steamed, fresh broccoli with garlic and olive oil.