Cheese Crisps – Arizona

We’ve talked before about Arizona’s unique state symbols. Any state that has an official march song, an official state neckwear and an official state fossil also needs an official state snack. We suggest Cheese Crisps.

Cheese Crisps - Arizona

Purportedly first invented in Tuscon at El Charro Cafe, this tasty treat is sort of an open faced quesadilla. It works best with thin flour tortillas so leave those thick tortillas for your burritos and fajitas. Use whatever cheese you like — we used a combo of cheddar and asiago — and top with mild (or spicy if you dare) chili peppers.

Check out the array of night programs at Saguaro National Park with two distinct districts, each outside of Tucson, including moonrise hikes, night walks, and star parties.

Cheese Crisps

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 flour tortillas
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 2 cups grated cheese (we used cheddar and asiago)
  • ¼ cup anaheim or poblano chili pepper, chopped

Instructions

Lightly butter both sides of tortillas. Place them on a wire rack and then place on top of baking sheet. Place in 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes or until tortillas are crisp and beginning to brown. Remove from oven and place one cup of grated cheese on each tortilla and then add chopped chili peppers. Change to broil setting and then return tortillas to oven until cheese is melted and bubbling on the edges.

 

 

Ham with Redeye Gravy – Arkansas

Ham with redeye gravy is one of those regional specialties that probably came about in an effort to use up every bit of leftover food. It’s made with coffee which gives it a very distinctive taste. If you love coffee with your morning coffee, this will get your motor running.

Ham with Redeye Gravy - Arkansas

Food historians are not sure where the name came from. Some say it was because when the gravy cooled somewhat, the fat separated from the other liquid and formed a circle that looked like a red eye. Others attribute the name to former President Andrew Jackson who asked his hungover cook to make some gravy to go with his grits that was as red as the cook’s eyes.

Purists say that redeye gravy should only be made with ham drippings, coffee and a little sugar to counter the bitter of the coffee. But in our taste tests we decided that that version was too thin and runny and opted for a version thickened with a bit of flour.

Little Rock Central High School played a central role in the civil rights movement as nine African-American teenagers bravely battled angry crowds to attend school after the Supreme Court decided Brown v. Board of Education. Still in use today, the high school can be toured by reservation.

Ham with Redeye Gravy

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2-3 ham steaks
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoons flour
  • ½ cup strong coffee or espresso
  • ¼ cup milk or cream
  • Pepper to taste
  • Sugar to taste (optional)
  • Ham
  • 3-4 fried eggs (for serving)
  • Buttermilk biscuits or grits (for serving)

Instructions

In a saucepan over medium heat, add ham. Cook until fat is rendered and ham is browned. Remove ham and set aside. Add butter to dripping in saucepan. When melted, add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes or until translucent. Add 1 tablespoon flour and whisk with onion mixture for about one minute. Add coffee and continue whisking. Add milk or cream. Keep on heat until desired consistency is reached. Season with pepper and sugar. Serve over ham and with fried eggs, along with buttermilk biscuits or grits.

 

Hoppin’ John – South Carolina

The year 2016 is just about one for the history books. What better way to ring in 2017 than with a heapin’ plate of Hoppin’ John. This classic Southern dish — which is really just gussied up black eyed

Hoppin' John - South Carolina

peas — is associated with New Year’s Day. Those who eat Hoppin’ John on January 1 will have good luck for the coming year, or so the legend goes. Often served with corn bread and collard greens, the peas represent coins, the corn bread represents gold and the greens, dollars or “greenbacks.” Some families add a coin to the pot while the peas are cooking, while others put a coin under each person’s plate.

Others say if you leave three peas on your plate, riches will come your way. Far be it from us to argue with potential wealth, especially when it’s this delicious. Hoping your 2017 is filled to the brim with all that is good.

Fort Sumter is in the middle of Charleston Harbor and is the site of where America’s Civil War began in 1861. Accessible only by boat, this former military post is now a national park.

Hoppin’ John

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 60 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. dried black eyed peas
  • Olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1-2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ham bone
  • 4-6 cups chicken stock
  • Bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
  • 2-3 scallions, chopped (to serve)
  • Tomato, chopped (to serve)

Instructions

Soak black eyed peas in water overnight, making sure that peas are covered by an inch or two of water. The next day, drain water and rinse peas well. Set aside. In a large pot over medium heat, add olive oil. When hot, add onion, red pepper, celery and garlic. Cook until onion is translucent and other vegetables have softened. Add peas, ham bone, chicken stock, bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer for about 45 or until peas are soft, adding more chicken stock if necessary. Remove ham bone and shave off any meat that remains on the bone, adding to pea mixture. Season with salt, pepper and/or cayenne. Serve over rice with chopped scallions and tomato.

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing – Connecticut

Connecticut’s unofficial nickname is the Nutmeg State. This comes from the alleged practice, in the 18th and 19th centuries, of shrewd Yankee peddlers who sold unsuspecting customers wooden nutmegs instead of real ones. Then again, some claim that certain less

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing

culinary-inclined customers might not have realized that whole nutmeg (which indeed looks like a little wooden bead) needed to be grated to be used. Swindlers or not, the moniker stuck.

We consider ourselves to be cookie connoisseurs but we had never even heard of these Nutmeg Logs until a few weeks ago. They use a generous amount of nutmeg and make your house smell like all kinds of Christmas when you bake them. And nothing goes better with nutmeg than eggnog, thus the eggnog icing. The fun part is running the fork tines over the icing before it sets to create a log effect.

Visit the Mark Twain house in Hartford, a terrific example of American High Gothic style, where Twain lived from 1874 to 1891. One writer has described this house as “part steamboat, part medieval fortress and part cuckoo clock.”

Nutmeg Log Cookies with Eggnog Icing

  • Servings: 3 dozen
  • Time: 60 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

For cookies:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

For icing:

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 3/4 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tablespoons eggnog
  • Ground nutmeg for topping

Instructions

For the cookies:

In the bowl of the electric mixer, add butter and sugar. Mix on medium speed until fluffy and light. Add egg and nutmeg. Mix until just combined. Add flour. Mix until incorporated. Take batter and divide into thirds. On a lightly floured surface, form dough into three logs approximately ½ inch in diameter. Cut each log into 3 inch pieces. Place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes or until cookies just begin to brown.

For the icing:

In the bowl of an electric mixer, add butter and confectioner’s sugar. Mix on medium speed. Add vanilla, then 1 tablespoon eggnog. If icing is too thick, add another tablespoon of eggnog until desired consistency is reached.

Once cookies are completely cooled, spread icing on cookies. Run the tines of a fork over the icing to make the “log.” Top with grated nutmeg. Let icing set before packaging cookies.

Show Me the Gerber Sandwich – Missouri

St. Louis loves their regional specialties including toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake, but now comes the Gerber Sandwich. This sandwich, first created by Ruma’s Deli and supposedly named after a

Gerber Sandwich

customer, is nothing more than an open faced ham and cheese on garlic bread with a sprinkling of paprika to jazz it up. The entire thing is broiled so the bread gets brown and toasted and the cheese gets warm and melted. Fancy? No. Delicious? Yes.

What kind of ham? Doesn’t matter, use whatever is on sale at the deli. What kind of cheese? In St. Louis, provel is used (a processed cheese food that is a combination of Swiss, provolone and cheddar), but because it is hard to find outside the region, we used provolone. The StateEats Kitchen churned these out for a few days last week and we were met with nothing but raves and kudos.

Check out the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Garden Glow, a magnificent holiday light display, featuring a million lights and unique installations, now through January 1.

Gerber Sandwich

  • Servings: 1 sandwich
  • Time: 10 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 4 or 6 inch section of French or Italian bread
  • 2-3 teaspoons butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2-4 slices of ham
  • 2 slices Provolone cheese
  • Paprika

Instructions

Slice French bread long ways. In a small dish, mash garlic with butter. Spread on bread. Add ham, then cheese. Top with a sprinkle of paprika. Broil open faced on top rack of oven until cheese is melted and just begins to brown.

Cranberry Mimosa – Massachusetts

Just because Thanksgiving is over does not mean that we are done with the cranberry. The tart little cranberry is the Bay State’s official state berry and cranberry juice is the official state beverage. The

Cranberry Mimosa

name cranberry is thought to be a bungled derivation of “craneberry,” so called by the Pilgrims because the spring blossoms resemble the head and bill of a Sandhill crane.

Because you can never have too many cocktail options with the holidays approaching, we bring you the cranberry mimosa. This fun little drink whips up with just a few ingredients and is light and refreshing,

Main Street, Nantucket, is the site of the 43rd Annual Christmas Stroll, December 2-4, 2016. Visit historic homes decorated for the holiday, visit the craft show and watch Santa arrive via a Coast Guard Cutter.

Cranberry Mimosa

  • Servings: 1 drink
  • Time: 5 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Orange slices
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup champagne or sparkling wine
  • 2-3 fresh cranberries (optional)

Instructions

Take orange slice and rub on rim of wine glass. Sprinkle sugar on plate, turn glass upside down and rub the rim of the glass in the sugar. Add orange slice to glass, then cranberry juice, then champagne. Add a few cranberries as a garnish if desired.

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini – Oregon

Oregon designated the hazelnut as its state nut in 1989. The Beaver State produces 99 percent of the US crop so this little filbert is an important part of economy. And did you know, some think the word

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini

filbert is derived from the term “full beard” which refers to the husk covering some varieties?

Hazelnuts have a rich, delicious flavor that marries well with apples. Along with dried cranberries and blue cheese, this appetizer was a fall flavor explosion that made us very happy. Try making this on Thanksgiving day to  ward off the hunger pangs before dinner.

Crater Lake is the nation’s deepest lake at 1,945 feet. The intense blue of the water is due to its purity. Because it is strictly fed by rain and snow, many experts think it is the cleanest large body of water in the world.

Hazelnut, Apple and Blue Cheese on Crostini

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 20 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • Baguette, sliced
  • 1/3 cup onion, diced finely
  • 1 cup apple, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 2/3 cup blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon horseradish

Instructions

Brush olive oil on sliced baguette. Broil in oven until bread is lightly toasted. In a small saucepan, heat olive oil. Add diced onion. Heat until onion is translucent. Remove from heat and set aside. In a small mixing bowl, add apple, cranberries, blue cheese, hazelnuts, maple syrup, and horseradish. Add onion. Mix to combine. Top baguette slices with about 1 heaping tablespoon of mixture. Broil in oven for 2-4 minutes or until blue cheese melts. Serve immediately.

Pumpkin Pie Bars – New Hampshire

Pumpkin became the state fruit of New Hampshire in 2006. The New Hampshire Pumpkin Festival, first held in Keene, New Hampshire, and now in Laconia, set a world record in 2013 with over

Pumpkin Pie Bars - New Hampshire

30,000 lit jack-o-lanterns. The lit pumpkins are housed on a huge scaffolding tower and honestly, it’s a sight to behold.

Because Thanksgiving is coming and because we can’t get enough of all things pumpkin we decided to bring you these pumpkin pie bars. They give you all the sumptuous goodness of pumpkin pie without the hassle of rolling out pie dough. Bake these and stash them in your freezer for the next time you are craving pumpkin pie.

The Portsmouth Harbour Trail is a walking tour that passes by 70 significant historical spots including 10 national historical landmarks and 10 buildings listed on the National Register of Historical Buildings.

Pumpkin Pie Bars

  • Servings: 24 bars
  • Time: 65 min.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Ingredients

For crust:

  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

For filling:

  • 15 oz. can pumpkin filling
  • 12 oz. can evaporated milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For topping:

  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped

Instructions

To make crust: In the bowl of the electric mixer, combine oats, flour, brown sugar and butter. Mix on low with the paddle attachment until just combined. The mixture will look crumbly. Press into the bottom of a 9 X 13 pan. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

To make filling: While crust is baking, combine pumpkin filling, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar, spices and salt. Mix on low until smooth. When crust is done, pour mixture over it and then return pan to oven for 20 minutes.

To make topping: While filling bakes, combine brown sugar and chopped pecans in a small bowl. When filling has baked approximately 20 minutes, remove from oven. Sprinkle topping over the filling which will be wiggly and not yet set. Return pan to oven for an additional 20 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Dems and GOP Vote for Hartford Election Cake – Connecticut

We’re reprising our Hartford Election Cake because no matter if you vote Democrat or Republican, this cake is a huge electoral win. This very old recipe dates back to colonial times, when the cake was

Hartford Election Cake

made to feed hungry militia during training days. After the Revolutionary War, Election Day was almost like a holiday. Historians are not sure if this cake was baked in celebration of the right to vote, or just to feed weary travelers who traveled long distances to get to polling places.

For this election season, we were delighted to discover that Old World Levain Bakery in Asheville, NC created a Make American Cake Again! project with election cake as its centerpiece, to raise awareness about our culinary heritage. If you make this cake, be sure to use #electioncake and #MakeAmericaCakeAgain on social media.

Full of nuts, raisins and spices, including cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg (very appropriate for the Nutmeg State) this cake rises twice for a total of two and a half hours. We can’t think of a better dessert to serve as you watch the returns roll in.

Nathan Hale is Connecticut’s state hero. He was an American soldier and spy for the Continental Army. He was captured by the Brits and before he was hung he stated “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.” Check out the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry, built in 1776, with Hale-family furnishings and period antiques.

Hartford Election Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Time: 3 hrs.
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Adapted from Rare Bits: Unusual Origins of Popular Recipes, by Patricia Bunning Stevens, www.ohioswallow.com, used with permission.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 packages active dry yeast
  • 1½ cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees)
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
  • 3¼ cups all-purpose flour (divided in two parts: 1½ cups, then 1¾ cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup chopped raisins (soaked overnight in brandy or bourbon, optional)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 tablespoons milk

Instructions

Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in milk. Add 1½ cups flour gradually, until mixture is smooth. Cover and let rise in warm place until very light and bubbly, 30 to 45 minutes.

Mix together 1¾ cups flour, salt and spices and set aside. Chop raisins, mix with nuts and set aside. Cream butter with sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. By hand, blend in yeast mixture. Gradually add dry ingredients, beating until smooth after each addition Add raisin-pecan mixture and mix well.

Grease and flour a 9-inch tube pan or large Bundt pan. Pour mixture into prepared pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place until dough almost reaches the top, 1½ to 2 hours. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake cake until golden brown, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in pan, then loosen cake from edges with a knife. Turn out onto a cake rack and cool completely.

For glaze: In a mixing bowl, whisk confectioners sugar, vanilla and milk until desired spreading consistency. Glaze should cover top of cake and drizzle down the sides.

 

Peanut Soup – Virginia (V, GF)

We admit to loving anything with peanuts. And why not? Peanuts are a good source of protein and contain vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, potassium and Vitamin E.  Virginia peanuts are

Peanut Soup - Virginia

mostly grown in southeastern Virginia but also in the Carolinas. Virginia peanuts are prized because they are bigger than other types such as Spanish, Runner, and Valencia.

Most peanut soup recipes use peanut butter and add cream — not an option if one is vegan or lactose intolerant. But then we found this recipe from the Washington Post where the peanuts are soaked overnight. It was like the answer to all of our soup prayers. This earthy soup is perfect for these chilly fall evenings or football Sundays.

Great Falls National Park is just 15 miles from Washington, DC and boasts spectacular views of the waterfalls with three overlooks. Activities include biking, boating, hiking, and fishing.

Peanut Soup

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 45 min.
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe credit: Washington Post

Ingredients

  • 2 cups roasted, unsalted peanuts, covered with water and soaked overnight
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/4 cup apple, diced (for garnish)
  • Dash of hot sauce (optional)

Instructions

Drain soaked peanuts, set aside. Place oil into large soup pot and heat over medium heat. Add onion and celery. Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the drained peanuts. Add celery seed and bay leaf, cook on medium for about 2 minutes. Add broth. Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the soup begins to boil. Reduce to low and continue cooking about 25 minutes or until peanuts are quite soft. Remove bay leaf and let soup cool a bit.

With an immersion or stand blender, blend soup in small batches until desired consistency is reached. Return soup to the pot and add salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Heat through. Garnish with diced apple and hot sauce if desired.

%d bloggers like this: