Thursday, February 04, 2016

Baked jalapeño pimento cheese dip

Baked jalapeño pimento cheese dip | Homesick Texan

To mark the Super Bowl each year, I like to prepare dishes that reflect each team. This year’s players are from Colorado and North Carolina, so I pondered making Denver omelets, ham biscuits, or pulled pork sandwiches for the game, but none of those really called out to me. Since it's also the fiftieth anniversary of the Super Bowl, for inspiration I looked towards the past.

First, I called my grandma and asked her if she remembered the first Super Bowl. “If the Cowboys weren’t playing then I probably didn’t watch it,” she said with a laugh. So I studied Texas newspapers and cookbooks from the late 1960s to see what was considered appropriate party food at that time.

Chile con queso was already a popular snack, as were nachos. A variety of dips were also present at most gatherings—with onion, cottage cheese, bacon almond, shrimp, and clam dips getting the most attention. I also read about unique concoctions such as liver and onion dip and bologna ka-bobs, but for some reason those are no longer in style.

Baked jalapeño pimento cheese dip | Homesick Texan

One dish, however, kept appearing in my research—pimento cheese. Back in the day, pimento cheese not only made frequent appearances on restaurant menus but was also served at home, too. This year’s game has been called the Southern bowl, and since pimento cheese has been called the pate of the South, I decided it would be a wonderful thing to share.

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Thursday, January 07, 2016

Pork enchilada verde casserole

Pork enchilada verde casserole | Homesick Texan

When faced with making decisions, I’m the sort who waffles if there are too many choices. For instance, if you take me to a restaurant that I’ve never been to before, I will spend at least 20 minutes looking at the menu and agonizing over what to order. People are patient, but it’s still hard for me to settle on one thing.

With Tex-Mex, however, I always know exactly what I want. Even if I’m at a place I've never visited, there are certain items that will always get my approval. Enchiladas verdes is one of them, as are tacos al carbon, chile con queso, and a loaded combination plate that is stacked with every single Tex-Mex greatest hit.

When I was growing up in Houston, there was a restaurant that specialized in enchiladas verdes stuffed with pork instead of the usual chicken or cheese. The sauce was rich and tangy from green chiles and tomatillos, and each enchilada was topped with a blanket of melted Monterey Jack and sour cream.

These enchiladas verdes have been calling my name the past few days. After a week of eating leftover black-eyed peas and collard greens (mind you, I’m not complaining) I figured that I’d been virtuous enough for the beginning of a new year. That said, instead of taking the time to make traditional rolled enchiladas, I opted for a quicker route and threw everything into a casserole instead.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Black-eyed peas wth bacon and jalapeños

Black-eyed peas with bacon and jalapenos | Homesick Texan

There’s a children’s book called “Old Hat New Hat” about a bear who decides he wants a new hat. He goes shopping and tries on quite a few, but whether it’s the color, the shape, or the pattern, there’s always something wrong with his choice. He is persistent, however, so he keeps at it. After much time, he at last finds the hat he seeks. Except the perfect hat for him is the one he was wearing when he arrived at the store. After all his effort, he realizes he had what he wanted all along.

Now, I can relate. The New Year is approaching and since Texans eat black-eyed peas for good fortune at this time, I’ve been trying to think of a fun dish to share. While I’m always fond of my stand-by pot of black-eyed peas, which is made with bacon and jalapeños, sometimes I want to cook up something fresh and new.

For example, in past years I’ve made: queso with black-eyed peas; black-eyed pea soup with collards and ham; smoky black-eyed pea and sausage soup; barbecue baked black-eyed peas; and migas with black-eyed peas and bacon.

Because this past year was challenging, the desire to come up with something creative—in order to improve my good fortune—was strong. So after brainstorming a bunch of ideas, I headed to the kitchen and began experimenting with different spices, herbs, meats, and vegetables.

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