Bite by Bite
Conquering My Culinary Bucket List One Dish at a Time
By Emily Banks Wooten
We had a lovely Christmas with my entire family at the beautiful HiBanks Ranch, my brother and sister in law’s place south of Waco. Hubby’s and Daughter’s schedules were such that they were able to spend an entire week there. Mother and I were busy with work however, so we drove up the Thursday before Christmas and spent four nights there.
It was so nice getting to spend time and catch up with family members we don’t see as often as we’d like - especially my grown nieces and nephews. One recently got a nice, big promotion at work and bought a beautiful house. Two recently started new jobs that they’re enjoying immensely. Another’s business ventures are continuing to multiply. And one revealed the exciting news that they’re expecting a new little one in July.
And boy, did we do some good eating! The afternoon that Mother and I arrived the temperature was 23 degrees which was the perfect weather for the big steaming pot of chili and pan of cornbread that Andra had waiting on the stove.
I was excited the following evening when Jimmy and Andra took us to Lounge 93 Kitchen & Cocktails because he’d already told me about it and I was looking forward to it. It’s a brand new upscale full-service bar and lounge located on the ground floor of the new office building of Jimmy and Lisa, his business partner, in Legends Crossing, a commercial development park located at Loop 340 and I-35.
The place was beautiful with its leather chairs, brick accent walls, ambient lighting and warm aesthetics. We started off with some of the signature artfully-crafted cocktails and a large charcuterie board that was mouthwatering. Afterward, some of the others ordered burgers and I selected a Greek salad.
Traditional Christmas Eve fare at Jimmy and Andra’s is a beautiful array of Mexican food, including tamales, homemade chalupas and homemade enchiladas, chips, queso, salsa and guacamole. Jimmy and Andra enjoy entertaining and are warm and hospitable hosts. Andra’s great at always putting out a spread of things to munch on in between meals. She made some wonderful sausage balls that Hubby requested I get the recipe for.
I’d planned on making some parmesan crisps but we had so much food that we didn’t need them so I waited and made them when we got home instead.
Our main meal on Christmas Day was a huge brunch with a spiral ham, Mother’s dressing, breakfast casserole, homemade cinnamon rolls, a fresh fruit tray and a breakfast hash among other things. The day after Christmas, on our way out of town to head home, several of us met for lunch at George’s, a Waco icon, before saying our goodbyes. But I’ll save that story for another day.
3-Ingredient Everything Parmesan Crisps
—1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
—2 teaspoons Everything seasoning, up to 2 tablespoons
—1 generous tablespoon all-purpose flour
•Preheat oven to 375 and line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silpat.
•Toss together the cheese, seasoning and flour in a bowl. Portion by generous tablespoons onto the prepared pan, leaving 4 inches between each pile of cheese. The cheese will spread a great deal as it bakes. If you’d like a more regular shape, you can use a 2 ½ to 3-inch cookie cutter to help shape the cheese, spreading the cheese to the inside edges of the cookie cutter.
•Bake for 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is completely melted and golden brown and slightly darker at the edges. Let the crisps rest on the pan for 2 minutes before carefully transferring to a cooling rack. Let them cool completely.
—Although it says to bake for 5-8 minutes, I baked them for 12-13 minutes.
—And you don’t need to leave 4 inches between them, they don’t spread that much.
—I had high hopes for these being a good keto snack but I found them to be so salty that they’re almost inedible.
—1 pound ground pork sausage, at room temperature
—2 cups biscuit baking mix
—1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
•Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
•Combine room temperature sausage and biscuit mix in a large bowl; mix with your hands until well combined. Add shredded cheddar cheese and mix until fully incorporated. Roll mixture into about 30 walnut-sized balls; transfer to a baking sheet.
•Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown and sausage is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
To Make Ahead:
Cool sausage balls to room temperature, then freeze in an airtight container. When ready to use, reheat at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.