Winter Root Soup

Winter Root Soup at www.culinarycousins.com

The Polar Vortex, Part Deux, is still hanging around town. We’re not alone in that, I realize, but this time it brought us the dreaded S word … snow. I’m sure you saw how our “measly” two inches debilitated us.

{Let me go off on a tiny rampage for a second. This week I read some disturbing stuff on Facebook and around social media: those snow aficionados (see, I didn’t say Yankees) scoffing and making fun of us in our “snowpocalypse” crisis. It’s no laughing matter. Not to Atlanta. Nor Charleston. Definitely not to Charlotte. It snows here once every 2-3 years, and we have like four brine trucks to service 100 square miles on 12 hours notice. And our snow isn’t pretty and fluffy and magical and fun. It’s mostly pellets of ice on top of a layer of ice, and we don’t know how to drive on it. So, yes, I run home like every other smart southerner, by way of the grocery store with requisite bread and milk tucked under my arm, as soon as that first flake falls. I’d much rather be snuggled warm and safe in my house than waiting outside at the elevated subway on my way to work in a blizzard, as I did in my former life. It’s no badge of honor.}

So, anyway. It’s cold. And last Sunday, it was 60 degrees. I’m not sick (yet), but everyone around me seems to be. Continue reading

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Stuffed Cabbage Rolls (in the Crock Pot!)

Stuffed Cabbage Rolls at www.culinarycousins.com

I love grandma food.

That’s what I call comfort food that either was or could have been made by a grandmother.

In the South, it’s chicken and dumplings or cheese grits or mac and cheese or any number of homemade cakes and pies. But it’s also slow-cooked Italian Sunday “gravy” over pasta, roasted beef and chicken, pierogies. Those foods that grandmothers of all cultures made with love and fed us in childhood. Ones that don’t have a place in our everyday diets, or we think take too much effort, but warm our souls when we do eat them. Continue reading

Perfect Cheese Grits

Perfect Cheese Grits | Culinary Cousins

Hi, all. I don’t know what happened. The Culinary Cousins accidentally took a little hiatus. But we’re back. Hopefully for good!

Now, let’s talk grits. They’re such a polarizing food.

Some people — mostly southern people, I’d say — are obsessed with them. Other people — usually not southern people, probably — absolutely despise them. If you’re southern, or remotely had a southern relative anywhere in your family, I think they’re just in your blood. Continue reading

Lemon Cheesecake – Part II

Here it is. The long-awaited reveal!

We’ve made lemon curd. We’ve made candied lemons. Now, let’s make some cheesecake. And put it all together.

We do have a birthday to celebrate, remember?

Lemon cheesecake at www.culinarycousins.com

Continue reading

Lemon Cheesecake – Part I

Lemon cheesecake at www.culinarycousins.com

I have a bit of a reputation in my family.

Jessica is the caterer for our events, and the one who keeps us on track with healthy eating. But I’m the baker, the dessert maker. Whenever a holiday or occasion comes around, sweets are my go-to contribution. And I tend to get a bit wild when I have the opportunity to bake for a crowd, when I can try my hand at all the fancy, complicated things that I would never make for myself. Like red velvet cheesecake and from-scratch cinnamon rolls at Christmas, or southern caramel cake at Easter.

I’m even starting to get special requests. Continue reading

Southern Chicken and Dumplings

Here it is. Some real, traditional, down-home southern food. From scratch, yet so easy that you can do it.

Chicken and Dumplings at www.culinarycousins.com

I wish I could claim that this is my great-grandmother’s legacy recipe for chicken and dumplings, but it’s not. I think I found it in some cookbook claiming it’s a copycat of the Cracker Barrel dish. But I’ll take it.

The stock part of this recipe has become my go-to for basic chicken stock, which I make as often as I can. The stuff in the box is great and easy, but there’s nothing like the taste of homemade stock. Continue reading

Banana Pudding Poke Cake

Banana Pudding Poke Cake | Culinary Cousins
At this point you may be under the impression that I eat really well. Let’s clear that up right now.

I do try to eat reasonably and responsibly, but deep down inside I am a baker. A dessert fiend. And sometimes I may hurt you if you are between me and a piece of chocolate.

Whew, confessions are good for the soul. Glad we got that out of the way.

Pinterest is quickly becoming the best way to gauge emerging food trends, at least in the home kitchen. Think “cake balls” or “kale chips.” And at Christmas, I went to the grocery store all geared up to make this cute little treat I’d seen online. As I searched the candy aisle, the one thing I needed was missing. Rolos. Then it occurred to me, all those recipes I’d seen. Rolos melted atop a pretzel (my choice) or Rolos rolled inside a sugar cookie. In a weird Rolo shortage, I blame Pinterest. It’s the likely culprit.

A few months ago I started to see a rash of recipes for something I’d never heard of: poke cake. Perhaps it’s truly a resurrection of an old, possibly southern, recipe. Or maybe it’s something someone made up last week. Either way, poke cakes are trendy. Continue reading

Tuesday Refreshment…

We all need a little refreshing at this point in the work week.  Yes- we are the Culinary Cousins, but No- food isn’t the only thing that inspires us. Here are a few things that made me smile today!

1. Azaleas are in full bloom here in SC, I cut these from my yard today and placed them in an heirloom blue jar from my grandmother. (LOVE hand-me-down things like that!)

Azaleas

Azaleas

Continue reading

Best Ever Mac and Cheese

Best Ever Mac & Cheese! | Culinary Cousins

Macaroni and cheese just may be my favorite food. And I’m not alone. Mac and cheese consistently ranks as America’s top go-to comfort food, hands down, and we make it in countless iterations, with all manner of pasta shapes, types of cheeses, mix-ins and toppings.

I’m a traditionalist, though. I don’t like it fancy. And I especially don’t want bacon anywhere near it — not in it, not on it, no how.

No bacon, you say? I know. I’m a shame to my people, a traitor to my southern roots. But I just don’t love bacon. (Please don’t hurt me.) And when it’s added to mac and cheese, the flavor just takes over and permeates everything. Some of you are wondering what’s wrong with that.

On mac and cheese, I’ve found that there are two schools of thought. One submerges macaroni (or any manner of small pasta) in a creamy, cheesy white sauce with roots in a butter-flour roux. Then there’s the southern way — layering pasta with cheese and pouring over an egg and milk custard. I grew up eating this version, where the mac and cheese bakes into a solidified, though delicious, mass that you can cut and serve in a perfect square. To me, that was always true and traditional. Continue reading